Pope Francis meets Patriarch Kirill in Cuba
Video shows the moment Pope Francis meets with Patriarch Kirill in an historic meeting with the head of the Russian Orthodox Church
By Telegraph Video, and AP, video source APTN
Pope Francis met with Patriarch Kirill in a papal meeting with the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, an historic development in the 1,000-year schism that divided Christianity that may, however, be more about Russia asserting itself than any new ecumenical progress.
“Finally!” Francis exclaimed as he embraced Kirill in the small, wood-paneled VIP room of Havana’s airport, where the three-hour encounter was taking place. “We are brothers.”
Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill meet for the first time (APTN / Cubavision)
They kissed one another three times on the cheek, and Kirill told the pope through an interpreter: “Now things are easier.”
Francis was having the brief talks in Cuba before heading off on a five-day visit to Mexico, where the pontiff will bring a message of solidarity with the victims of drug violence, human trafficking and discrimination to some of that country’s most violent and poverty-stricken regions.
The meeting and signing of a joint declaration was decades in the making and cemented Francis’ reputation as a risk-taking statesman who values dialogue, bridge-building and rapprochement at almost any cost.
Indeed, while the meeting with Kirill has been hailed by many as an important ecumenical breakthrough, Francis has also come under criticism for essentially allowing himself to be used by a Russia eager to assert itself among Orthodox Christians and on the world stage at a time when the country is increasingly isolated from the West.
The joint declaration is expected to touch on the single most important issue of shared concern between the Catholic and Orthodox churches today: the plight of Christians in Iraq and Syria who are being killed and driven from their homes by the Islamic State group.