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SAN FRANCISCO: MAY 7, 2006

Greeting of His Holiness Alexei, Patriarch of Moscow and All of Russia

To His Eminence Laurus, Metropolitan of Eastern America and New York, Đhairman of the Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia.

To the participants of the IV All-Diaspora Council

Your Eminence!
Eminent đierarchs,
Honored └athers and ╚rothers!

Christ is Risen!

During these Paschal days, again and again our thoughts turn to the fate of the much-suffering Russian Church. Christ has made the resurrection of our Church apparent through the prayers of Saint Tikhon, Patriarch of Moscow, and all the New Martyrs and Confessors of Russia.

Five years ago we sent the Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia a fraternal epistle from our Holy Synod, in which we wanted to express our pain at the division within the Russian Church and our hope that it would be overcome. After we witnessed the fall of the godless authorities and the rebirth of Church life within our Fatherland, we hoped with our own eyes to see the end of this division so that we could all together stand before the Holy Altar of the Lord.

This hope is still with us, but now it is even stronger. For since that time the Providence of God allowed us to complete a great journey. God has allowed both sides to meet, to look, so to speak, each other in the eyes and to become better acquainted with each other. Many such moments come to mind, but especially memorable was our first meeting with Metropolitan Laurus and the large delegation of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia. Another moment was the Liturgy at the Field of Butovo, where we were all overcome with the feeling that the New Martyrs, who with their presence sanctify the very ground in Butovo, were praying with us and for us, for the unity of our Church. During those days the words of the Paschal hymn was especially significant: "Pascha, let us embrace each other with joy. Oh, Pascha! The deliverance from sorrows..."

The Church dedicated to the memory of the Holy New Martyrs, where Metropolitan Laurus himself participated at the order of founding, has grown and has been crowned with a cupola and cross. There has also grown a mutual understanding of previously contested issues, which for the last two years have been discussed by special commissions. There have also taken place many personal meetings between our hierarchs, clergy, and laypeople; numerous pilgrimages to the holy places of Russia have been organized and the relics of the Diaspora were brought into our own land, where they were venerated by millions of the faithful. Our Lord has allowed us to collaborate on some great things, but we believe that our greatest work is yet to come.

We prayerfully wish that God sends his Grace to the deliberations of the All-Diaspora Council and the Council of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, whose decisions will have such a great significance for the life of Russian Orthodoxy in both the Homeland and the Diaspora.

May the "God of love and peace" be with all of us.

+ Alexei
Patriarch of Moscow and of all Russia
April 27, 2006