The representatives of every diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church have elected Metropolitan Kirill as their new patriarch.
As the former head of the Department of External Relations of the Patriarchate of Moscow, he was considered the most favorable candidate for dialogue with the Catholic Church.
He succeeds Alexei II, who died on December 5 of last year.
Benedict XVI, who has met with Kirill three times, was pleased with the election. He has publicly acknowledged Kirill on four occasions, the first time during the general audience.Benedict XVII have received with great joy the news of the election of Metropolitan Kirill as the new Patriarch of Moscow and all of Russia.
The Pope also sent the newly elected patriarch a personal telegram in which he said he prayed that God would bless his initiatives for the full communion between Catholics and Orthodox.
The third occasion was during the ad limina visit of Catholic Russian bishops. The fourth was a special letter on the day of Kirills enthronement. The Pope said he hoped to continue the sincere dialogue between the Russian Orthodox and Catholic church, to find a way to promote and strengthen the communion among Christians
Kirill is 62 years old, and was ordained as a priest at age 23. Now, he leads the biggest branch of the Orthodox church, with nearly 150 million followers.
Although he was considered the most open for dialogue out of the eligible candidates, he has never been shy to ask the Vatican to downgrade Catholic dioceses on Russian soil, and to reclassify them as apostolic administrations, because the Russian dioceses are the responsibility of their own Orthodox bishops.