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Russia’s Orthodox Church hails landmark meeting of Pope Francis, Patriarch Kirill

"The meeting was "highly successful", - the chairman of the Church’s external relations department said

HAVANA, February 13. /TASS/. Russia’s Orthodox Church hails the meeting of Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill, calling it "highly successful," Metropolitan Hilarion (Alfeyev), the chairman of the Church’s external relations department, told TASS on Saturday.

"I can describe the meeting as highly successful," Metropolitan Hilarion said pointing out that "the encounter was historic in lots of ways. First, the patriarch of Moscow and the pope of Rome had the first meeting in history and second, that meeting was not a protocol one."

The primates of the two oldest branches of Christianity "focused on the most pressing issues and problems the contemporary Christianity is facing nowadays," he said. "And first of all, persecution of Christians in Syria, the Middle East and Central Africa - in any places where a true genocide is being carried out against the Christian population".

The situation in the world is aggravating

Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill did not meet two years earlier because of the development in Ukraine, the chairman of the Church's External Relations Department said.

"The meeting might have taken place two years earlier but for developments in Ukraine and the part of Greek Catholics in them," the metropolitan said noting that "in spite of the fact that unionism remain a very tense issue in our relations, the decision had been taken not to postpone the meeting any longer."

"As the situation in the world is aggravating and coming to the boil, this conversation could not have been put off any longer," he said.

The world demands urgent measures

Russia’s Orthodox Church believes that a counter-terrorism coalition should embrace both political and religious leaders, Metropolitan Hilarion told TASS on Saturday.

"In the current situation, when contradictions around Syria are on the rise, when different counterterrorism coalitions are being formed and each offers its own recipes to battle terrorism, it should be highly important to prevent any confrontation between these coalitions," Metropolitan Hilarion said.

"In order to win, just one coalition is needed - the one that would unite all people of goodwill, including both politicians and religious leaders," he said.

"I think the meeting of Pope (Francis) and Patriarch (Kirill) is a step in this direction," he went on to say. "The topicality of the encounter has been determined by the situation emerging in the world that demands urgent measures both from political and spiritual leaders.".

The dialog will be continuing

Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill will be continuing the dialog, Metropolitan Hilarion said.

"Certainly, the dialog will continue," the bishop said noting that a possibility of future meetings had not been discussed.