Putin praises Russian Patriarch's care for citizens' concerns

"You have assumed enormous responsibility for the entire Orthodox flock, and your heart is filled with concern for each churchgoer, for each of the smallest of the parishes," Putin told the Patriarch on Friday.

Putin also said he had discussed various aspects of life in Russia on many occasions with Patriarch Kirill. "I know - not by hearsay - that you are one with the country and with the people in tackling tragedies and in celebrating successes," he said.

"You have been doing a great deal to bring up the younger generation in the spirit of patriotism and to help our compatriots abroad maintain contact with their homeland," the president said.

The Patriarch thanked the president for his greetings and for his being open for meetings and discussions of the most pressing problems. He also said that since he was enthroned four years ago, dialogue between the church and the state has been broadening. "This dialogue helps solve many problems arising in Russian citizens' lives," the Patriarch said.

"Quality of life is measured by spiritual values, not only material wealth," he said. "Relations between church and state in Russia help the church to fully administer its service, inspire people in their spiritual and material life, engage in charitable activities, and take care of the younger generation, and disabled and elderly people," he said.