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Pope says ready to go to Moscow to meet Orthodox Patriarch

FILE PHOTO: Orthodox Christmas at the Cathedral of Christ the Savior in Moscow
FILE PHOTO: Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia conducts an Orthodox Christmas service at the Cathedral of Christ the Savior in Moscow, Russia, January 6, 2021. REUTERS / Maxim Shemetov

December 6, 2021

By Philip Pullella

INTRODUCING PAPAL PLAN (Reuters) – Pope Francis said on Monday he is ready to travel to Moscow to meet Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill “brother” on the first trip of a pope to Russia .

The couple’s meeting in Cuba in 2016 was the first by a pope and a leader of the Russian Orthodox Church since the great schism that split Christianity into Eastern and Western branches in 2016. year 1054.

Both sides have declared their willingness to work towards unification but they are still very far apart in terms of theology and the role of the pope in an eventual unified Church.

“We are brothers and we speak frankly to each other. We don’t dance the minuet,” Francis told reporters on the plane back from a trip to Cyprus and Greece.

“We must move forward, walk and work towards unity.”

He said he was ready to go to Moscow and that a top Russian Orthodox official is expected to travel to Rome next week to decide on the time and place of the meeting.

Francis said working out the protocols would be less important than meeting “brothers” with Kirill.

The Pope often travels to countries with joint invitations from religious authorities as well as governments, meaning Francis will most likely need an invitation from President Vladimir Putin to visit Russia.

The Russian Orthodox Church, the largest of the Christian Orthodox Churches, with about 100 million members, is closely affiliated with the Kremlin.

Francis said the meeting with Kirill was “on the horizon”.

He said Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev, who is in charge of the external relations of the Russian Orthodox Church, will come to the Vatican to meet with him to discuss the possible place and time of the next meeting. .

(Reporting by Philip Pullella; Editing by Mark Heinrich and Alison Williams)

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DUSTIN JONES

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