The picture above shows His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia, right, with the President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, Cardinal Kurt Koch, who handed Kirill a piece of St Francis of Assisi.
Koch, according to this report, gave Kirill the relic – a gift from the Pope – to mark the Russian Orthodox leader’s 70th birthday this week.
The relic was accompanied by a message from Pope Francis which said:
I wish to convey to Your Holiness, my beloved brother in Christ, the assurance of my personal best wishes and fervent prayers on the occasion of your seventieth birthday.
I thank the Lord for the abundant blessings that he has bestowed upon you in your life and in your ministry as Pastor of the Russian Orthodox Church. I am especially grateful for your personal contribution to the rapprochement between our Churches and I recall with great emotion our historic meeting in Havana.
Kirill was also in the news this week for slamming equality laws that open the way to gay marriage.
He compared such legislation with apartheid laws in South Africa and anti-Semitic laws in Nazi Germany, and concluded that in their innermost hearts, people know such laws are wrong.
I hereby give notice that my 70th birthday is just three months away, and I can think of no better gift than Kirill’s ridiculous hat … preferably with his head still in it.