For the first time in nearly 1,000 years since the Great Schism the heads of the Russian Orthodox Church and Roman Catholic Church met face to face.
Kirril, Russian Orthodox Patriarch of Moscow and all the Russias met with Pope Francis of the Roman Catholic Church for two hours at the Havana Airport to sign a joint declaration condemning the genocide of Christians in the Middle East by radical Islam and calling on world leaders to prevent the complete extermination of Christians in the Middle East.
Apparently, the slaughter of Christians by ISIS and other radical Islamic jihadists was enough of a catalyst to end the millenium old silence between the two Christian Churches.
I wouldn't read too much into this meeting as far as a reconciliation between the two largest branches of Christianity. In my opinion, the theological, political, and cultural differences are too vast to ever see a reunification. However, it was good to see the two Christian leaders step up and denounce the genocide of Christians that has been kept as quiet as possible in the West, especially by Barack Obama's regime in Washington.
Russian Orthodox Patriarch & Roman Catholic Pope hold historic meeting, sign call to end Christians’ persecution
Published time: 12 Feb, 2016 19:38
Edited time: 12 Feb, 2016 22:21
The head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill, and Pope Francis signed a joint declaration after their first historic meeting in Havana, Cuba. They called on world leaders to prevent Christians in the Middle East from “being completely exterminated” and to help refugees from those regions.
“Our gaze must firstly turn to those regions of the world where Christians are victims of persecution. In many countries of the Middle East and North Africa, whole families, villages, and cities of our brothers and sisters in Christ are being completely exterminated,” the declaration stated
Patriarch Kirill and Pope Francis drew attention to the violence in Iraq and Syria, stressing the severity of the humanitarian problem in the region, and urging the international community to stand up and help.
“Thousands of victims have already been claimed in the violence in Syria and Iraq, which has left many other millions without a home or means of sustenance. We urge the international community to seek an end to the violence and terrorism and, at the same time, to contribute through dialogue to a swift return to civil peace. Large-scale humanitarian aid must be assured to the afflicted populations and to the many refugees seeking safety in neighboring lands.”
The two also discussed the relations between the Churches and the problems of their believers, in addition to sharing views on the progress of human civilization
The declaration calls on the world to unite against terrorism and help free those who have been kidnapped by extremists.
“We call upon all those whose influence can be brought to bear upon the destiny of those kidnapped, including the Metropolitans of Aleppo, Paul and John Ibrahim, who were taken in April 2013, to make every effort to ensure their prompt liberation.”
The two also touched upon Ukraine, condemning the violence that has “thrown society into a deep economic and humanitarian crisis” and urging all sides to embrace a peaceful solution to the conflict. “We invite all the parts involved in the conflict to prudence, to social solidarity and to action aimed at constructing peace.”
‘Brothers at last’
“We are brothers, at last,” were the first words Pope Francis addressed to his counterpart when they met, TASS news agency reports.
“Now, it will be easier,” responded Patriarch Kirill.
“It is evident that this meeting is God’s will,” said the Pontiff, in his native Spanish.
The schism between Rome and Constantinople that took place in the year 1054 grew out of political, cultural, and doctrinal differences. It has never fully healed. The heads of the Greek Orthodox Church and the Pope had been mutually excommunicated from each other’s branches until the mid-1960s. Unlike the Catholic Church, the Orthodox Church does not have an overall head, but Patriarch Kirill leads its biggest branch, which boasts more than 150 million believers.
According to Ivan Jurkovic, the Vatican’s Nuncio to Russia and Uzbekistan, the meeting between Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill will have significant “symbolic consequences.”
He called the meeting “a good start” and a “symbol” of a new beginning for both churches. “This historical meeting is a kind of fruit of so many years of mutual positive contacts,” he told RT, adding that we “we belong to the same culture.”