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Stage is set ahead of historic pope-patriarch meeting

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By Euronews  with Reuters
Stage is set ahead of historic pope-patriarch meeting

<p>The stage is set, now all that remains is for the lead actors to arrive.</p> <p>A historic reunion of East and West is scheduled for Friday (February 12) when the heads of the Russian Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches will meet in Cuba.</p> <h3>Political agenda?</h3> <p>Analysts suggest the meeting would not be possible without the backing of Russian President Vladimir Putin,however, Patriarch Kirill’s spokesman was keen to distance the event from politics.</p> <p>“The church agenda is not connected with the political agenda of any country in any way,” said Father Alexander Volkov. “So we proceed from the fact that this is a meeting of two church leaders and there is no politics involved. Trying to find it there is absolutely pointless.”</p> <p>Political or not, the meeting could be <a href="http://www.euronews.com/2016/02/05/east-meets-west-patriarch-kirill-and-pope-francis-to-talk-in-cuba/">a significant step towards healing a millenium-long rift</a> between Christianity’s eastern and western branches.</p> <h3>Secret preparations</h3> <p>Pope Francis will leave for Cuba on Friday (February 12). His entourage stressed the need for secrecy in the run-up to the visit.</p> <p>Cardinal Kurt Koch said:<br /> “It was very important that we didn’t say anything in public because this is a historic event, it is the first time that the Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church and the Pope of the Catholic Church meet. It needed to be prepared in secret.”</p> <p>Pope Francis will move on to Mexico following the Cuba talks.</p>