The stage is set, now all that remains is for the lead actors to arrive.
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.
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.
“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.”
Political or not, the meeting could be a significant step towards healing a millenium-long rift between Christianity’s eastern and western branches.
Pope Francis will leave for Cuba on Friday (February 12). His entourage stressed the need for secrecy in the run-up to the visit.
Cardinal Kurt Koch said:
“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.”
Pope Francis will move on to Mexico following the Cuba talks.