Pope Francis’ journey to Mexico takes on ecumenical traits. In fact, it was announced that on February 12, the Pope will meet in the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, Kirill, in Cuba. A historic embrace, never seen before between the Successor of Peter and the Bishop of the so-called “third Rome”, after the Vatican and Constantinople, the seat of the Successor of the Apostle Andrew. The news was spread by the director of the Press Office of the Holy See, Father Lombardi: “The Holy See and the Moscow Patriarchate have the joy to announce that, by God’s grace, Pope Francis and His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia will meet on February 12”
Their meeting will take place in Cuba, where the Pope is going to stop briefly on his way to Mexico and where the Patriarch will be on an official visit. The personal conversation will take place at the international airport Jose Marti and will finish with the signature of a joint declaration. This meeting of the Primates of the Catholic and the Russian Orthodox Churches which has been “prepared for a long time”, will mark an important stage in the relations between the two Churches. Both sides hope that it is also a sign of hope for all people of good will and “invite all Christians to pray God fervently to bless this meeting, which will give good results.”
The conversation will last “two hours,” – Lombardi said. When it will come to gifts exchange, they will be joined by the Cuban President Raul Castro. Besides signing a joint declaration, Francis and Kirill will also have a conversation. Castro will welcome the Pope on the runway. About three hours later he will accompany Bergoglio back to his plane, which will take him to Mexico City “at the scheduled time,” – the Vatican spokesman ensured: “Kirill and Pope Francis meet after a couple of years of preparation. Cuba – a “neutral” place, as it were, but significant for Both Sides – is a crossroads in today’s world and in its dynamics. Besides, it is a familiar place both for the Russian Orthodox Church and the Holy See (three Popes have visited it since 1998).”
The Vatican spokesman pointed out that “after having been informed about the imminent meeting between the Pope and the Patriarch of Moscow Kirill, the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I expressed his satisfaction and joy for this embrace between the head of the Catholic Church and that of the largest Orthodox community world”. This historic event has been accelerated by the ongoing “genocide of Christians” perpetrated by terrorism. “In front of what is happening, the two spiritual leaders were bound to meet.” Dialogue with other faiths is a priority interest for Francis, who often talks about the importance of ‘”blood ecumenism”, which witnesses the persecution of Christians of different confessions: “Our martyrs are calling: We are one! We are already united in the spirit and even in blood, ” – the Pontiff said.