Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia said he hoped relations between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church would further develop.
The Russian Patriarch met with an official delegation of the Holy See, which attended his enthronement, at his working residence in Moscow on Monday.
Patriarch Kirill "expressed the hope that relations between the two churches would further develop in an atmosphere of mutual trust and cooperation, primarily in defending and asserting the traditional Christian values in Europe and in the world as a whole," the Moscow Patriarchate reported on its website on Tuesday.
Coincidence of the Orthodox and Catholic believers' positions on many aspects of the life of present-day society could provide the groundwork for such interaction, the Patriarch said.
The Catholic delegation was led by Walter Cardinal Kasper, the head of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. Council Secretary, Bishop Brian Farrell, and the Vatican envoy in Russia, Archbishop Antonio Mennini, were among the delegates.
Pope Benedict XVI, on his part, congratulated Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia on his enthronement and reaffirmed his "esteem and spiritual closeness."
In a message to the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, made available to Interfax-Religion on Tuesday, the pope said that Patriarch Kirill was now the successor of Alexy II, who "worked assiduously for the unity of the Russian Orthodox Church and for communion with the other Orthodox Churches."
He likewise maintained a spirit of openness and cooperation with other Christians, and with the Catholic Church in particular, for the defense of Christian values in Europe and in the world. I am certain that Your Holiness will continue to build on this solid foundation, for the good of your people and for the benefit of Christians everywhere," Pope Benedict said.
"I readily recall the good will which characterized our meetings at the time of your service as President of the Department of External Church Relations," the Pope writes.
"It is my earnest hope that we will continue to cooperate in finding ways to foster and strengthen communion in the Body of Christ," he said.
Pope Benedict's message was handed to the Russian patriarch on Monday by Walter Cardinal Kasper. He also passed to the Russian Patriarch a gift from the Pope - a communion cup as the token of the desire to reach complete communication soon.