Pope Francis said on December 6 there were plans for a possible second meeting with the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, after their historic 2016 encounter in Cuba became a landmark in mending relations severed by the 1,000-year-old schism that divided Christianity.
Francis said he planned to meet next week with the Russian church’s foreign envoy “to agree on a possible meeting” with Patriarch Kirill. The Pontiff noted that Kirill is due to travel in the coming weeks, but Francis said he was also “ready to go to Moscow” even if diplomatic protocols weren’t yet in place.
“Because talking with a brother, there are no protocols,” Francis told reporters as he travelled home from Greece. “We are brothers. We say things to each other’s face like brothers.”
The two churches split during the Great Schism of 1054 and have remained estranged over a host of issues, including the primacy of the pope and Russian Orthodox accusations that the Catholic Church is poaching converts in former Soviet lands.