Russian President Vladimir Putin and several Ministers of his government attended the Easter Divine Liturgy, celebrated today by Patriarch Alexy II in Moscow´s Cathedral of Christ the Savior.
In addition to Putin and his wife, the religious ceremony was attended by Serguei Ivanov, Defense Minister; Vice Prime Minister Valentina Matvienko; Serguei Mironov, president of the Council of the Federation (Parliament´s upper chamber); and Yuri Ludkov, mayor of Moscow.
The four-hour Liturgy was transmitted live on Russian television.
In his Easter message, Patriarch Alexy II said that "all is viewed differently" in the light of Christ´s resurrection.
"Illumined by the light of the resurrection of Christ, the cross that each of us bears in following the Lord becomes lighter -- the cross of everyday cares, infirmities, worries and troubles, the cross of ministering to our neighbors," the patriarch explained.
"Today, as in the first centuries of Christianity, those who do not know Christ are entering his Church and come into the wisdom of truth," Patriarch Alexis II continued. "And we are commanded by the Apostle to be called to account for our faith with gentleness and reverence."
After inviting his listeners to study "the great spiritual treasury of our holy Orthodox faith," the patriarch reminded them that "Orthodox Christianity has and always will bring to people goodness and peace, joy and love."
"In fulfilling our duty to serve the Church of God, let us tirelessly combat evil which is active in the world -- the rebellion against the truth of Christ, the cult of violence and sin, criminality and immorality, greed for gain and the worship of material wealth," the patriarch stressed.
"Let us follow the Savior´s commandment to make common cause in caring for the infirm and those who suffer, especially our elderly citizens, refugees and invalids, and children deprived of the love of their parents," Patriarch Alexis II added.
"In searching for solutions to the global problems that threaten us all -- the growth of terrorism, international and social enmity -- our holy Church is prepared to take a most active part," he said.
"We are open to cooperation with all those who strive toward the goal of a world ruled not by pride and hatred, not money and goods, not ambitions and ill will, but accord, self-sacrifice, righteousness and love," he added.
President Putin also addressed an Easter message to his countrymen, reminding them that for "millions of Russians, Easter is a particularly important and joyful event" which evidences "the growing positive influence of the Russian Orthodox Church and of other traditional confessions in our country and in the life of society."
"I am convinced that, relying on a unique moral and cultural heritage we will be able to preserve and increase the spiritual richness of our people in order to transform Russia into a prosperous state," said the presidential statement, which was published Saturday.