Historic Meeting Anticipated for a 1,000 Years

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(Newswire.net — February 15, 2016) — Before the meeting, they greeted each other warmly. The Orthodox Patriarch of Moscow and Russia, Kirill, said that they met at the right time and the right place, an he stressed that everything happens according to God’s will.

Bishop of Rome, Pope of the Catholic Church, Francis, warmly greeted the Russian Patriarch and called them brothers.

During the meeting, the heads of the two churches signed a joint declaration on religious unity,  on Christian beliefs, current conflicts in the world, and called for peace in the Ukraine, Syria and Iraq, reports the AP.

They talked about the attacks on Christians in the wake of the violence by Islamic states. The Pope and Patriarch said that they hope this meeting will contribute to re-establishing the unity which God wills.

After the meeting, the Pope said that during the talk, he felt the presence of the Holy Spirit. He stressed that the he spoke with Patriarch Kirill like with his own brother, very open and honest.

The Orthodox and Catholic Church can actively work together, said Patriarch Kirill after the meeting, and added that they spent two hours in an open, understanding, and brotherly discussion.

The Pope and Patriarch exchanged gifts that have deep symbolic meanings. The Pope gave the Patriarch a reliquary with a relic of St. Cyril of Alexandria, who lived in the 5th century, and is respected by both the Catholic and the Orthodox church.

The Patriarch gave the Pope a small icon, a replica of the Kazan Icon of the Mother of God. This icon is very respected in Russia, they believe the icon has miraculous powers.

The meeting was held at Jose Marti International Airport in Havana, Cuba. After the initial greetings, they continued the meeting which lasted 2 hours behind closed doors.

This was the first meeting between the Roman Pope and Orthodox Patriarch since the Great Schism of 1054 and the division of Christianity.

The meeting on neutral ground has been in plans for decades, and the last obstacles have been removed thanks to a combination of the Pope’s determination that a meeting should be held and the attitude of the Patriarch that the events in the Middle East increased the need to call for Christian unification.

In an interview before the meeting, the Pope said that he just wants to hug his Orthodox brothers, and added that Moscow could be an important partner in achieving peace in the world.

After the meeting with the Patriarch, the Pope went on to Mexico, where he will stay for five days.  He will focus on poverty, immigration and corruption. He will celebrate Mass in Chiapas, close to the border with Guatemala, and in Ciudad Juárez, near the border with Texas.