On November 20, 2021, in the Catherine Hall of the Kremlin, a ceremony was held to present His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia with the highest state award/mark of distinction of the Russian Federation – the Order of the Holy Apostle Andrew the First-Called, according to Patriarchia.ru.
The award was presented by the President of the Russian Federation V.V. Putin.
As noted in the decree of the Head of State, the Order of the Holy Apostle Andrew the First-Called was awarded to His Holiness Patriarch Kirill “for his outstanding contribution to the preservation and development of spiritual and cultural traditions, the strengthening of peace and harmony among peoples.”
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V. Putin: Your Holiness!
Let me cordially congratulate you on your 75th birthday.
You have chosen for yourself the path of spiritual, moral service and are following it with dignity, wisdom and a deep understanding of responsibility for the fate of our people, for the fate of Russia.
Of course, the Church knew different times, but today her voice again acquired great importance, people listen to it, they trust it. And this is largely the result of your personal efforts and tireless pastoral labors, sincere concern for affirming the ideals of peace, goodness, justice, love and mutual understanding in the hearts of people.
Under your sensitive spiritual guidance, the Church actively participates in the life of society, in solving urgent social problems, in the implementation of large-scale projects that are significant for our entire country.
Fruitful pastoral service has earned you the highest authority, not only in Russia, but also abroad, and the respect of millions of believers throughout our vast country.
I would also like to note your enormous contribution to the establishment of the traditional values of our peoples, to the preservation of our historical and cultural heritage.
Today, as we fight the coronavirus pandemic, your call for rallying in the face of the threat inspires the clergy of the Russian Orthodox Church, volunteers, and everyone who carries out the merciful mission of helping the sick who need support and spiritual support.
Your Holiness, it is a great, great honor for me to celebrate your services and work for the good of the Motherland and present you with the highest award of Russia – the Order of the Holy Apostle Andrew the First-Called, a particularly revered educator and preacher of the Christian faith.
Once again, I sincerely congratulate you on your anniversary. I wish you good health and success in your noble service.
Patriarch Kirill: Your Excellency, dear Vladimir Vladimirovich!
I sincerely thank you for the words that you just said, noting my humble work, and, of course, for this highest order of Russia.
The Order of St. Andrew the First-Called is a state award, but it is no coincidence that this highest award was established in honor of the Apostle Andrew. He was one of the twelve apostles who enlightened the land, which today is a significant part of Russia, with the light of Christ’s truth. And therefore, of course, this order is in a sense not only the highest state insignia, but also a shrine, because it depicts Saint Andrew the First-Called.
Based on the fact that the highest order of modern Russia is the Order of St. Andrew the First-Called, the enlightener of our land, I would like to say how the life of our people has changed over the past decades, how people have changed.
It is known that “a man is not, who will live like that, and will not sin,” says the wisdom of the Church. There is not a single person who would live his life without making mistakes. There are also collective mistakes, and we know that there have been such mistakes in the history of our people and country.
At the end of the 20th century and at the beginning of the 21st century, our life – the state, social, personal life of a huge number of people – was built in such an amazing way that we realize that we live in a happy country. And although there are many problems, and we are all familiar with them, we have the most important thing – we are free, we are independent, we have preserved our culture, we have preserved our faith. Our people have survived, despite the most difficult vicissitudes of the 20th century.
Today Russia with a large margin of safety is following its own historical path, and in this special period of our history you are the head of our Fatherland.
I thank you for the award and at the same time I would like to express my gratitude to you on behalf of the Russian Orthodox Church and on my own behalf for your constant attention to the spiritual life of people, for your relationship between politics and morality, for your desire to build the life of our Fatherland not only on the law, but and on the truth. For all this we thank you. I know that a huge number of people and the absolute majority of the children of the Russian Orthodox Church today fully share my words.
Thank you again for the great award.
Let me wish you health, God’s help, long life and success in the further management of the Russian state.
V. Putin: Your Holiness, thank you very much.
At the end of this ceremony – modest, one might say, despite the fact that our event is large, modest, because we are forced to live under certain restrictions associated with the coronavirus, I have already said this, nevertheless, this is a solemn ceremony, and by on a big occasion, on a serious occasion, and this is what I would like to say in conclusion.
Of course, we all understand very well that the state’s success in the economic field lies at the heart of the country’s well-being, the development of the economy, and the enhancement of defense capability and security. This is a basic thing that cannot be doubted.
But there are much deeper things. Both the economy itself and everything connected with it depend on the spiritual principles of any society, which unite this society into one single whole. And only by uniting into this whole, society and the state achieve success.
Your Holiness, you are exactly the person who pays attention to the most important things – our faith, our spiritual principles, our basic values - and you do it really with all your heart, with full dedication.
Once again I express my most sincere gratitude to you and wish you all the best.
Patriarch Kirill: Thank you.