(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis’ meeting with the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill, has been hailed as an historic event.
The meeting took place on Friday 12 February in Cuba as the Pope made his way to Mexico for an apostolic journey.
The meeting marks the first encounter in history between a Pope and a Russian Orthodox Patriarch in the nearly 1,000 years since Eastern Orthodoxy split with Rome.
“Finally!” Pope Francis said as he embraced Patriarch Kirill in a private room at Havana’s airport where the three-hour encounter took place. “We are brothers” he said.
And the two leaders signed an unprecedented joint declaration in which they express their hope that the meeting “may contribute to the re–establishment of [the] unity willed by God, for which Christ prayed”.
“May our meeting inspire Christians throughout the world to pray to the Lord with renewed fervour for the full unity of all His disciples. In a world which yearns not only for our words but also for tangible gestures, may this meeting be a sign of hope for all people of goodwill!” the declaration reads.
Just days after the meeting the Vatican’s Apostolic Nuncio to Moscow, Archbishop Ivan Jurkovic told Vatican Radio that he hopes this meeting is the first of many to come:
Archbishop Jurkovic says the future of the unity of Christian Churches will certainly reap great benefits from this meeting.
He expresses his belief that such an event “should become a normal event: they are calling each other ‘my brother’, and meetings with brothers should never be an extraordinary event”.
The Archbishop says that he is convinced that in the future we will see more such meetings which will become part of ‘ordinary communication’.
“These meetings will show our common concern for the destiny of mankind and for the destiny of the Church” he said.
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