Sunday, February 01, 2009


Before the country's president and premier, a high-ranking Vatican delegation and some 4,000 hierarchs and churchfolk, the 16th patriarch of Moscow and All Russia was enthroned earlier today at Moscow's Cathedral of Christ the Savior.

The first head of the 160 million-member Russian Orthodox Church to be installed since the fall of the Soviet Union, 62 year-old Patriarch Kirill's inaugural message as head of Christianity's second-largest branch boiled down into three priorities: an emphasis on outreach to young people, a new drive toward relations with "sister churches," and an unstinting commitment to combatting "moral relativism."

For a Vatican that's long sought better ties with the Moscow patriarchate, the opening words of its favored candidate for the post were likely received as music to its ears.

A video dispatch from the three-hour long rites: