(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has just arrived in the Cuban capital Havana where he will have an historic first meeting with the leader of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill. The Patriarch arrived in Cuba yesterday at the start of a three nation tour of Orthodox communities in Latin America, while Pope Francis is on his way to Mexico City, where he’s scheduled to land at around 7.30 this evening local time.
Cuban President Raul Castro was at Havana’s ‘José Martì’ International airport to meet the papal plane and to accompany Pope Francis to the room where the private encounter is taking place.
The two Church leaders are due to meet together for about two hours, accompanied by their translators and their top ecumenical experts, Cardinal Kurt Koch, President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and Metropolitan Hilarion, President of the Moscow Patriarch’s Department for External Church Relations.
The Pope and the Patriarch will then exchange gifts and sign a Common Declaration, expected to focus on the plight of Christians in the Middle East and other areas where Catholics and Orthodox can witness together to their common Christian values.
Both leaders will then hold a brief press conference to share their impressions and their hopes for the future of Catholic-Orthodox relations.
You can watch the event live and hear our radio commentary in English on the Vatican YouTube channel.