The message reads, in part:
“Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI was a prominent religious leader and statesman, and a staunch defender of traditional Christian values. During his papacy, Russia and the Vatican established full-format diplomatic relations, and ties between the Russian Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches expanded.
I had the honour of meeting that outstanding man, and I will forever cherish the memory of him. In this sad hour, I would like to extend my sincere condolences to you.”