On 24 March 2013, the first Sunday in Lent known as the Sunday of Orthodoxy, His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia celebrated the Divine Liturgy of St. Basil the Great and the Office of the Triumph of Orthodoxy in the Christ the Savior Cathedral, press service of the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia reports.
Immediately following the election of Pope Francis on the evening of March 13, His All-Holiness communicated the following congratulatory message to the Vatican:
In the joy and jubilation of Your election as the pastoral leader of Roman Catholic Christians throughout the world, we are communicating with Your Holiness in order to express to You and the devout faithful of Your blessed Church our wholehearted congratulations and sincerest salutations on this special day.
Permit us also, on this historic occasion, to convey our unfeigned wishes and fervent prayers that your papal tenure may prove to be a source of peace in our world of turmoil and division, a refuge and consolation for our Lord’s poor and suffering brothers and sisters, as well as a continuation of our journey toward reconciliation and consolidation of the dialogue for the unity of our Sister Churches.
† B A R T H O L O M E W
By the Mercy of God Archbishop of Constantinople-New Rome
and Ecumenical Patriarch
To the Plenitude of the Church
Grace and Peace be with you from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ
together with our Prayer, Blessing and Forgiveness
Beloved brothers and sisters, children in the Lord,
The holy fathers, who arranged everything in an orderly manner, instituted a period of ascetic discipline and spiritual purification for forty days prior to the great feast of the Lord’s resurrection. This ascetic rule assumes the form of a limitation on foods through fasting, but especially an abstinence from evil. The saintly hymnographer characteristically emphasizes that a genuine and favorable form of fasting for God is the estrangement from wrongdoing, control of the tongue, alienation from anger, separation from evil desires, including gossip, deceit and swearing, restoration of justice, disengagement from passionate thoughts, fervent confession, cleansing of the conscience, “which there can be nothing more difficult,” refraining from “harmful passions, from envy and hatred, indeed from every wickedness,” shunning of “the mind’s perversion,” admission of transgressions. For “the Judge is close, at the door,” and he tries hearts and minds, since “He is everywhere present and fills all things.” (Great Canon of St. Andrew of Crete)
On March 15, 2013, His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia met with Palestine’s President Mahmoud Abbas at his residence in the St. Daniel Monastery.
On Monday, March 4, 2013, a three-day seminar entitled "The Second Period of the Ecumenical Synod" was held at the Theological School of Halki with the participation of approximately 60 clergymen from the Pastoral Education Foundation of the Archdiocese of Athens as well as several participants from Messinia (Greece), Germany and Belgium. Among the speakers were His All-Holiness and Metropolitan Elpidophoros of Bursa, as well as esteemed faculty from theological schools of the Universities in Athens and Thessalonika. Othegvr guests of honor included the President of the EU's Interparliamentary Assembly on Orthodoxy, Mr. Sergei Popov, who is also an MP of the Russian Douma. Metropolitan Iakovos of the Princes Islands also hosted a reception for the participants.