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Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill meet in Cuba

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Pope Francis and the Russian Patriarch Kirill met in the Cuban capital Havana, in a first meeting between the leaders of the two major churches since the schism a 1.000 year ago.

“Finally! We are brothers”, Kirill told Francis when the two met at the Havana airport. The two religious leaders signed a joint declaration condemning attacks against the Christian communities in the Middle East and North Africa.

The meeting has strong political overtones, with rival Russian and Western military involvement in the Middle East, and with the choice of its venue, on Communist Cuba. The Russian Patriarch remains in Cuba for a longer visit, while Pope Francis left for Mexico.