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And they’ll be issuing a joint declaration! Looks like the race between the Phanar and the Kremlin to be Rome’s bestie is on! We can think of no better place for them to meet than Cuba.

Via Christianity Today:

For the first time since the Christian church split into West and East in 1054 over issues of papal authority and the source of the Holy Spirit, a Roman Catholic pope and the heavyweight of the Eastern Orthodox Church will sit down together.

Pope Francis will meet with Russian Orthodox Church Patriarch Kirill for several hours tomorrow in a neutral location: Cuba’s Havana airport. The two will end the meeting by signing a joint declaration, according to the official announcement.

The Russian church contains the majority of the world’s 260 million Orthodox Christians.

“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 announcement said. “The Holy See and the Moscow Patriarchate hope that it will also be a sign of hope for all people of good will.”

While the two historic halves of the church disagree on many matters, such as the Russian handling of Christians in the Ukraine and Catholic attempts to evangelize Orthodox members, the violence against Christians in the Middle East was compelling enough to persuade Kirill to consent to a meeting that Francis has pursued.

“Although many problems in relations between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church remain unresolved, the protection of Christians in the Middle East against the genocide is a challenge that requires urgent united efforts,” said Vladimir Legoida, spokesman for the Russian Orthodox Church. “The exodus of Christians from the Middle East and North Africa [MENA] countries is a catastrophe for the whole world.”

Catholic and Orthodox Christians have a roughly equal presence in the MENA region, according to the Pew Research Center.

Francis’s ecumenism has previously included the Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople, as well as multiple overtures to Protestants. To good effect: a LifeWay Research survey found nearly 2 in 5 American Protestant pastors (37%) said Francis had a positive impact on their opinion of the Catholic Church, while more than 3 in 5 said they saw the pope as their brother in Christ (63%).

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