Benedict XVI met with a group of visiting Catholic bishops from Russia, just days after the Russian Orthodox Church elected Metropolitan Kirill as its new patriarch.
The Pope extended his congratulations to Kirill and the Russian Orthodox Church, and urged the Catholic bishops to maintain a dialogue with their Orthodox counterparts.Benedict XVI
Unity is a gift from Christ, which grows and develops in real situations of many local churches... To you, pastors of the Church in Russia, the Successor of Peter renews his sense of promptness and spiritual closeness, with encouragement to pursue unity in pastoral activities, also benefiting from the experience of the universal Church.
He also said he understood the difficulty of carrying out their spiritual tasks in a country where Catholics are a minority. According to the most recent statistics, there are approximately 796,000 Catholics in Russia, a country with a population of more than 143 million.Benedict XVI
Since the concerns which you must measure daily are not few, I exhort you to not be discouraged if you think the ecclesial reality is modest at times, and the pastoral results you achieve do not seem suitable for the efforts that went into them.
The Eastern Orthodox Church broke with Rome in 1054, but both sides have been engaged in dialogue in recent years. Benedict XVI hopes that Orthodox and Catholics will be together in full communion in the future.