Pope Francis set for historic Orthodox Patriarch meeting

Pope Francis will hold a historic first meeting with Patriarch Kirill, the head of Russian Orthodox Church, in Cuba next week.



The Russian Orthodox Church said the “persecution of Christians” would be the central theme of the meeting.

Pope Francis will stop over in Cuba on his way to Mexico.

It is the first papal meeting with a Russian Church head since the Western and Eastern branches of Christianity split in the 11th Century.

The meeting is due to take place at Havana airport, where the two leaders will sign a joint declaration.

Patriarch Kirill is due in Cuba for an official visit at the same time as Pope Francis’ stopover in Havana.

In a joint statement, the two churches said the meeting would “mark an important stage in relations between the two churches”.

They invited “all Christians to pray fervently for God to bless this meeting, that it may bear good fruits.”‘

Since becoming Pope in 2013, Pope Francis has called for better relations between the different branches of Christianity.

The foreign policy chief of the Russian Orthodox Church, Metropolitan Illarion, told reporters that there were still differences between the two churches, but that international events had pushed the leaders to meet.

He said: “The situation in the Middle East, in northern and central Africa and in other regions where extremists are perpetrating a genocide of Christians, requires immediate action and an even closer cooperation between Christian churches.

“In this tragic situation, we need to put aside internal disagreements and pool efforts to save Christianity in the regions where it is subject to most severe persecution.”

Patriarch Kirill has been the head of the Russian Orthodox Church since February 2009, while Pope Francis took up his role in March 2013.

The Roman Catholic Church has more than a billion members worldwide, while the Russian Orthodox Church numbers about 165 million.

The Orthodox Church is made up of more than 10 separate churches. The Vatican has existing ties with the Istanbul-based Ecumenical Patriarch, Bartholomew I, but this will be the first meeting between the Pope and the patriarch of the Russian Church, which is the largest and most powerful Church in Orthodoxy.

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  2. we know of this ecumenical movement which the catholic wants all protestant churches to come under their banner. We know the wiles of the evil one are at work here. The just shall live by faith

    1. You have a problem with ALL churches being one?? But they were one in the first place!! So on whose side are you on if you want churches to be further apart yet they claim 1 baptism 1 faith 1 God??
      If you don’t gather with Christ definitely you are his enemy.
      Christ prayed that they be ONE just like the Father Son and Holy Spirit are ONE. He is doing exactly what he is supposed to do and I think even more!! Mind you there is no heaven for catholics and another for Protestants so don’t be blinded by excessive fundamentalism which will prevent you to reconcile with your brother lest you may not be reconciled with your creator as well.

  3. Kitsi you ought to find out why the Protestant Church left the Church of Rome. The reason was they identified the ways Rome had left the way of the Bible in favour of the pagan influences. Rome has since not reformed from these practices. It follows then that any reconciliation with Rome is an acceptance of its apostate traditions that are in direct opposition with Christianity.

  4. This is what happens when people are obsessed with their opinions and prejudices against someone. The article talks about efforts to speak with a common voice on matters pertaining persecution of Christians, efforts at dialogue among people who believe in Christ. Topic tsvee, and you start the usual attacks that have become typical of us as Zimbos. Is it really a bad thing that brothers in Christ meet and talk about a common concern? Sometimes you get the impression that members of one Christian denomination would rather dine with atheists than with fellow Christians on the basis of doctrinal differences. I wonder what happened to the commandment to love one another…

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