Press review: Manchester terror attack's call to arms and US' push for Assad's ousterPress Review May 24, 13:00
Russian Navy to get seven advanced nuclear submarines by 2021Military & Defense May 24, 12:44
Defense Ministry reports on Russian army's 2016 picksMilitary & Defense May 24, 11:32
Defense minister vows causes of Tu-154 crash near Sochi will be disclosed soonWorld May 24, 11:20
Russia, US discuss Syrian conflict in round-the-clock mode — defense ministerRussian Politics & Diplomacy May 24, 11:01
Russia ready to help countries affected by terrorism in their probe — security chiefRussian Politics & Diplomacy May 24, 10:39
Defense chief names strategically important regions for RussiaRussian Politics & Diplomacy May 24, 10:29
Russian defense contractor develops domestic air traffic control systemMilitary & Defense May 24, 9:45
New radar system enters combat duty in Russia’s Far EastMilitary & Defense May 24, 9:24
HAVANA, February 12. /TASS/. The first-ever meeting between the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia and the Pope has begun at Havana’s Jose Marti International Airport.
The meeting between Patriarch Kirill and Pope Francis is being held behind closed doors.
The patriarch and the pope will speak their native languages (Russian and Spanish), with two interpreters helping them. 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 scheduled for 16:30 local time (21:30 UTC), and it is to be followed by public statements by the two churches’ leaders.
Chairman of the Russian Orthodox Church’s Department of External Church Relations Metropolitan Hilarion (Alfeyev) 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]."
"Now it is to be hoped that the document will be presented in the coordinated form at the meeting with the pope," the metropolitan said, noting that "the text of the declaration could however be changed."
The declaration will be distributed in four languages. The contents of the document are kept secret yet. Only the general topic of the meeting - persecutions of Christians in the Middle East and other regions - has been mentioned.
"The issue of persecutions of Christians will be central at the meeting," the metropolitan said.
He explained that the situation in the Middle East, in North and Central Africa and some other regions, where extremists are involved in real genocide of Christian population, requires urgent measures and closer interaction between Christian churches.
"In the current tragic situation, it’s necessary to move aside internal disagreements and unite efforts to save Christianity in regions where it is persecuted in a cruel way," Metropolitan Hilarion said.
Patriarch Kirill and Pope Francis are also expected to touch upon urgent issues of bilateral relations and international policy. They will discuss universal Christian and human values, the role of the Church in preserving the traditional institutions of family and marriage, the fight against such vices as drug addiction and alcohol abuse. The Russian Orthodox Church hopes the meeting will open a new page in relations between the two churches.
The previous Holy Christian Church broke up into two, the Roman Catholic and the Eastern Orthodox Churches, in 1054.
Earlier, both the Patriarch and the Pope said they pinned great hope for their meeting.