His Excellency, Mr. Raúl Castro Ruz
President of the Councils of State and Ministers of the Republic of Cuba
Your Excellency, dear Mr. President:
I write to express my sincere gratitude for your invitation and for the warm welcome I, and the ecclesiastical delegation that accompanied me, received during our visit to the blessed Cuban land.
I will treasure in my heart the noblest memories of this visit to the Island of Liberty, as well as the sentiments of affection and hospitality of the Cuban people. Likewise, very warm sentiments remain with me regarding the talks that we held, during which I was convinced, once again, of your candor and sincerity, of your experience in the role you undertake, of your ability to make objective assessments of the processes that are underway in the world today. I hope to have the opportunity to continue our discussions in the future. I will always be willing and it would be a great pleasure to meet with you in Moscow.
It was a great honor for me to receive, from your very own hands, the highest decoration of the Republic of Cuba, the José Martí Order. I regard it as recognition and high esteem for the service of the Russian Orthodox Church. I would like especially to emphasize the fact that Your Excellency, along with other leaders of the Cuban state, were present at the divine liturgy in the temple of Our Lady of Kazan in Havana, sharing the joy of this celebration with the Orthodox community in the city.
Very personally, I want to thank you and the Cuban authorities for creating all the necessary conditions for my meeting with Pope Francis. I am sure that this event will open a new page in relations between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church.
I wish you, dear Mr. President, much spiritual and physical health, and success in providing such a responsible service for the welfare of the Cuban people.
Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia