Pope sends greeting to Orthodox Patriarch

Pope Benedict XVI has sent his greetings to the new Russian Orthodox patriarch, pledging to work for closer relations and citing areas of common interest. The Vatican released a personal message Monday from Benedict to Patriarch Kirill a day after his installation as successor to the late Patriarch Alexy II.

Relations have been troubled by accusations from the Russian church that the Vatican is trying to convert Russians to the Catholic faith. The Vatican denies this.

The pope praised Alexy's efforts for unity among Christians and assured the new patriarch of his commitment to the "defense of Christian values in Europe and the world" - a position important to both churches.

Source: Vatican radio