Pope, and Russian Orthodox Church leader announce meeting

Vatican City, Feb 6 (IANS/AKI) Pope Francis will hold the first meeting in history with the leader of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill, next Friday in Cuba, the Vatican said in a statement.

Kirill was already expected to visit the Caribbean island and the Pope will stop there for the meeting on his way to an official visit to Mexico, Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi said.

“This meeting of the Primates of the Catholic Church and the Russian Orthodox Church… will be the first in history and will mark an important stage in relations between the two Churches,” said a joint statement of the Holy See and the Patriarchate of Moscow.

The statement urged Christians “to pray fervently for God to bless this meeting, that it may bear good fruits”.

The Eastern and Western Churches split in the Great Schism of 1054, primarily over the issue of papal authority.

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