(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis is in Mexico on his 12th Apostolic Journey, after meeting with Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill in Havana, Cuba to sign a joint declaration. The Director of the Holy See Press Office, Fr. Federico Lombardi, SJ, spoke with Veronica Scarisbrick about the Holy Father's meeting with the Patriarch and his arrival in Mexico.
Listen to their conversation:
Noting that the Pope and the Patriarch's encounter was private, Fr. Lombardi said the climate of the discussion was "very friendly, but 'friendly' is too little an expression for he says the encounter [began] with the Patriarch saying 'my brother' and ended with 'finally, finally we meet, you are my brother'. This means he was very happy and the Patriarch was also happy."
He notes this will not be a unique episode but is merely the beginning of a closer relationship. "The Pope has said that they spoke about some concrete initiatives, but he has not explained what. The talk was not theoretically but was concrete."
"The dynamic element is the personal encounter between the Pope and the Patriarch."
Turning to the arrival of Pope Francis in Mexico, Fr. Lombardi said "here in Mexico City we have these incredible crowds, over a million people. There was a very good preparation for the little arrival ceremony, with people, songs, and dances.
As per his usual, the Holy Father immediately broke protocol upon arrival, going to meet the people. "In this sense I think we have already experienced how the great Mexican people is happy to have the Pope with them and how the Pope desires to meet personally and directly many, many people. This is obviously a place where the Pope speaks his [native] language; this is an advantage. I think it will be a marvellous encounter with this land where the people has always demonstrated an enormous love for the popes."
Concluding the interview, Fr. Lombardi said, "the vitality of the youth of this people will give a sense of hope, of dynamism, and future, and also the encounter with the Virgin of Guadalupe will give a sense of tenderness and spirituality to these days."