11/02/2019, 16.06
RUSSIA – CUBA – VATICAN
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Moscow patriarch speaks about meeting Francis in Cuba

by Vladimir Rozanskij

This is the first time Kirill refers to his meeting with Pope Francis. At the time, the two felt the same about the “genocide of Christians”. Slamming Greek Catholics, he says they “are not manageable”. For him, even Pope Francis has “certain difficulties" handling them. The Moscow Patriarchate sees itself as judge and jury of ethnic and ecclesiastical conflicts.

Moscow (AsiaNews) – On Wednesday, the Patriarch of Moscow Kirill (Gundyayev) met with Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel Bermudes at his Moscow residence at Danilov Monastery. On this occasion, he spoke about his meeting with Pope Francis in 2016 in Cuba, complaining about Ukrainian Greek Catholics, guilty in his eyes of causing the conflict against Russians, and about the Vatican for failing to get them to toe the line.

The high-level meeting saw the Patriarch and his closest aides receive President Diaz as well as Cuban government officials, including the foreign minister. This followed Diaz's visit to Putin, who reiterated the historic friendship between the two countries.

Kirill congratulated Raul Castro's successor for his election as president in April 2018, and mentioned his many visits to the Communist country, first as head of the Patriarchate's foreign department (in 1998, 2004 and 2008) and later as Patriarch of Moscow in his 2016 apostolic visit to the countries of Latin America.

“Certainly, my meeting with Pope Francis was the culmination of the visit,” Kirill said. “I told him that we were meeting in the right place at the right time. Cuba provided ideal conditions for the historic meeting, the very first of the kind. We spent two hours at Havana airport and discussed very important issues in an open brotherly talk. As a result of this meeting, the words ‘genocide of Christians’ have come into international use, and even the US Congress began to use them after our Joint Declaration had been issued.”

Talking about his tête-à-tête with the pontiff, Kirill mentioned the fight against terrorism, and the situation in Ukraine. “Our appeal to solidarity and peace-making was very important,” he said, adding that “Participation of the Church in such events must not aggravate conflicts among people.”

In view of these situations, “The Russian Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church are maintaining this position. Yet we cannot say the same about the Greek Catholics in Ukraine who are not only a part of civil conflict, but inspire it. I think that Pope Francis also has certain difficulties with the Greek Catholics as actions of this group of people are not manageable,” but are getting stronger thanks to Rome’s protection.

This is the first time the Patriarch of Moscow spoke publicly about his meeting with the Pope in February 2016. It is surprising that he used this occasion to explicitly slam the Ukrainian Greek Catholics, whilst concurrently accusing the Pope of accusation weakness towards them.

Like at Havana airport, the Russians are conveniently using their Latin American partners, not their neutrality, to impose their own "universal" vision, as if they were judge and jury of ethnic and ecclesiastical conflicts.

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