February 5, 2016, Friday — Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill Will Meet in Cuba on February 12, 2016.
IMPORTANT PRESS COMMUNIQUE FROM THE VATICAN
Joint Press Release of the Holy See and of the Patriarchate of Moscow
The Holy See and the Patriarchate of Moscow are pleased to announce that, by the grace of God, His Holiness Pope Francis and His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia will meet on February 12 next.
Their meeting will take place in Cuba, where the Pope will make a stop on his way to Mexico, and where the Patriarch will be on an official visit.
It will include a personal conversation at Havana’s José Martí International Airport, and will conclude with the signing of a joint declaration.
This meeting of the Primates of the Catholic Church and the Russian Orthodox Church, after a long preparation, will be the first in history and will mark an important stage in relations between the two Churches.
The Holy See and the Moscow Patriarchate hope that it will also be a sign of hope for all people of good will.
They invite all Christians to pray fervently for God to bless this meeting, that it may bear good fruits.
Here is the same text in Russian (the fact that the Vatican issued the communique also in Russian, something very rare and I think unprecedented, shows that this meeting has been long planned by both sides, who agreed to announce it in this way):
Совместный пресс-релиз Святого Престола и Московского Патриархата
Святой Престол и Московский Патриархат с радостью сообщают, что по благодати Божией Его Святейшество Папа Франциск и Его Святейшество Кирилл, Патриарх Московский и всея Руси, встретятся 12 февраля с.г.
Встреча состоится на Кубе, куда Папа сделает остановку по пути в Мексику и где Патриарх прибудет с официальным визитом.
Встреча будет включать в себя личную беседу в Международном аэропорту им.
Хосе Марти в Гаване и завершится подписанием Совместной декларации.
Готовившаяся в течение долгого времени встреча Предстоятелей Русской Православной и Католической Церквей станет первой в истории и ознаменует собой важный этап в отношениях между двумя Церквами.
Святой Престол и Московский Патриархат желают, чтобы это событие стало также знаком надежды для всех людей доброй воли, и побуждают всех христиан к горячей молитве о том, чтобы по благословению Божию предстоящая встреча принесла добрые плоды.
As I wrote a few days ago, when I reported that such a meeting was being rumored, a meeting between the Pope of Rome and the Patriarch of Moscow has never previously occurred.
The meeting has been in the planning for many years.
It will come one day after the third anniversary of the announcement of the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI, which took place on February 11, 2013.
The meeting has profound symbolic significance.
It suggest that the relations between Rome and the largest of the Orthodox Churches, that of Moscow (which counts under its jurisdiction almost two-thirds of the world’s estimated 200 million Orthodox) are finally at a point where this long hope-for meeting is finally possible.
Therefore, he meeting also has considerable significance for the relations between the West, represented by Rome, and Russia, represented, in this case, by the Patriarch of Moscow.
There is no doubt that this meeting also has significance for events in Ukraine, and in the Middle East, including in Syria, where Russia has recently intervened.
Thus Cuba, the island which, in October 1962, at the time of the Cuban missile crisis, almost became the site of a tragic nuclear confrontation between the US and the USSR, in this way next week will become the site of a very different encounter — an encounter of two world religious leaders, representing two of the great but long-separated traditions of Christianity, that of the Latin West (Catholic) and that of the Greek East (Orthodox, in its Russian form), meeting for the first time.
Many Catholics will see in this meeting an unfolding of the mysterious prophecy of Our Lady of Fatima, who in 1917 spoke to the three shepherd children of Russia’s faith at a time when that country was about to become communist. The first apparition of Our Lady occurred in Fatima on May 13, 1917, 99 years ago. The 100th anniversary of that apparition will be celebrated in one year’s time at Fatima, and Pope Francis will attend tht celebration.
May the meeting of Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill lead to deeper mutual understanding, to greater friendship between our separated Churches, and may it therefore produce good fruits: greater unity, steps toward peace, and greater justice for all who suffer oppression.
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What is the glory of God?
“The glory of God is man alive; but the life of man is the vision of God.” —St. Irenaeus of Lyons, in the territory of France, in his great work Against All Heresies, written c. 180 A.D.