Friday 13 December 2019

Pope and Patriarch seal historic unity

Historic meeting: Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill in Cuba. Photo: AP
Historic meeting: Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill in Cuba. Photo: AP

Nicole Winfield

Pope Francis kicked off his first day in Mexico yesterday with a popemobile ride past adoring crowds, launching into a day that started with tough-love speeches to the country's political and church elite and ended with a silent prayer before the Virgin of Guadalupe at the largest Marian shrine in the world.

The five-day Mexico trip follows a brief but historic meeting in Havana, Cuba on Friday, when Francis embraced Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill and with an exclamation of "finally," took a momentous step toward closing a nearly 1,000-year schism in Christianity.

The two religious leaders signed a 30-point joint declaration of religious unity that committed their churches to overcoming their differences. Francis tweeted that the meeting was a "gift from God".

Francis and Kirill also called for political leaders to act on the single most important issue of shared concern between the Catholic and Orthodox churches today: the plight of Christians in Iraq and Syria, killed and driven from their homes by Isil.

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