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Russian Orthodox, Roman Catholic churches’ leaders to sign 10 pages long declaration

February 12, 6:37 UTC+3 HAVANA
The heads of the Russian Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches are going to meet Friday for the first time in history
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Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia

Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia

© Ismael Francisco/Cubadebate via AP

HAVANA, February 12. /TASS/. A joint declaration expected to be signed by Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia and Pope Francis, who are meeting on Friday in Havana, contains ten pages, a source in the Russian Orthodox Church taking part in the organization of the historic meeting told TASS.

The heads of the Russian Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches will meet Friday for the first time in history.

"It is ten pages long," the source said. "The text of the declaration is still subject to changes."

The patriarch and the pope will speak their native languages (Russian and Spanish) with the help of two interpreters. One of the interpreters will be Lithuanian priest Visvaldas Kulbokas. Kulbokas is in diplomatic service in the Vatican and he is known to have worked as an interpreter at the pontiff’s meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in June 2015.

The signing of a joint declaration is set for 16:30 local time (21:30 UTC), and it is to be followed by public statements of the two churches’ leaders. Chairman of the Russian Orthodox Church’s Department of External Church Relations Metropolitan Hilarion said prior to the patriarch’s departure from Moscow to Havana that "the text of the declaration was being coordinated by the sides until late yesterday evening [February 10]."

The venue of the meeting has been discussed for the past few years, but Patriarch Kirill was originally against any sites in European countries. "Because the difficult history of separations and conflicts between Christians is connected with Europe," Metropolitan Hilarion said. He also said the meeting became possible due to coincidence of dates of the Latin American tour by the patriarch and the visit to Mexico by the pontiff.

Neither Russia, nor the Vatican were considered as the venue for the meeting between the pope and the patriarch. "Cuba suits everyone, it’s the part of the region that develops dynamically," the metropolitan said, noting that it is "neutral" territory.

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