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Pope Francis I praises level of relations with Eastern Orthodox Church

April 30, 2017, 1:40 UTC+3 VATICAN CITY

He said it on Saturday as answered questions from reporters making up the Vatican pool

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VATICAN CITY, April 30. /TASS/. Pope Francis I has praised the current status of relations between the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Churches, including the Russian Church.

He said it on Saturday as answered questions from reporters making up the Vatican pool. He spoke to them while returning to Rome from Cairo, where he had a meeting with Coptic Orthodox Patriarch Tawadros II.

"I have fair relations with Patriarch Kirill I," he said when TASS asked him . "I’ve had many contacts with Metropolitan Ilarion (the head of Moscow Patriarchate’s Department for External Church Relations - TASS), whom I developed smooth relations with."

"I’ve always enjoyed strong friendship with the Orthodox Christians," Francis I said. He recalled that used to attend a Christmas Eve service on January 6 in the Orthodox Church when he was archbishop in his home city, Buenos Aires.

"The service usually lasted 2 hours 40 minutes and it was conducted in a language I didn’t understand," he said. "But you could pray profoundly there. And after it there would be a dinner in the (Orthodox) community - the Christmas Eve dinner, the lenten one."

"I’ve always had the relations of trust and brotherhood (with Orthodox Christians - TASS)," Francis I said. "Our two Churches are sisters. We can draw much from the Orthodox Christians’ mystical tradition and to learn from them."

Slightly more than a year ago, on February 12, 2016, the Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia Kirill I and Pope Francis I had a historic meeting in Cuba.

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