Elio Delgado Legon
HAVANA TIMES — The 2-hour gathering between Pope Francis and Kirill, the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, held in Havana on February 12 has put an end to nearly a millennium of misunderstanding and hostility between two Christian churches that maintain different points of view on a number of religious issues, but are united by their faith in and love of Christ.
The joint declaration signed by the two religious leaders at the conclusion of the meeting begins with the following two points:
“1. By God the Father’s will, from which all gifts come, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, and with the help of the Holy Spirit Consolator, we, Pope Francis and Kirill, Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, have met today in Havana. We give thanks to God, glorified in the Trinity, for this meeting, the first in history.
It is with joy that we have met like brothers in the Christian faith who encounter one another “to speak face to face” (2 Jn 12), from heart to heart, to discuss the mutual relations between the Churches, the crucial problems of our faithful, and the outlook for the progress of human civilization.
- Our fraternal meeting has taken place in Cuba, at the crossroads of North and South, East and West. It is from this island, the symbol of the hopes of the “New World” and the dramatic events of the history of the twentieth century, that we address our words to all the peoples of Latin America and of the other continents.
It is a source of joy that the Christian faith is growing here in a dynamic way. The powerful religious potential of Latin America, its centuries–old Christian tradition, grounded in the personal experience of millions of people, are the pledge of a great future for this region.”
Pope Francis, leader of the Catholic Church, and Patriarch Kirill, leader of the Russian Orthodox Church, have offered an example of how frank and open dialogue can overcome all differences, and that the solutions to the current world crisis are to be found in understanding and unity within diversity, not through the use of force.
The entire world has followed the gathering of the religious leaders closely and see in it a beacon of hope and an example of how the world’s problems can be confronted today – it is not with sanctions, blockades and threat of war that those of us who inhabit the Earth are to achieve understanding.
The leaders of the two churches who have flocks of hundreds of millions of believers are concerned about the situation faced by Christians in different parts of the world, where they suffer the violence caused by war and misunderstanding.
The two held their historical meeting in Cuba, a land where many religious coexist in harmony, and, at the conclusion of the gathering, Pope Francis thanked the Cuban government for its help and reception and stated: “If it continues this way, Cuba will be the capital of unity.”
And it couldn’t be any other way, as we Cubans are convinced that diplomatic efforts always yield the best fruits and that unity and dialogue will prevail over hatred and war.