01/27/2016, 14.24
RUSSIA – VATICAN
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Moscow Patriarchate denies reports about a Kirill-Francis meeting in Latin America

by Nina Achmatova

The Russian Orthodox Church rules out any get-together when the two leaders travel to Cuba and Mexico in February. A report about a possible meeting in a third country recently appeared in Italian media.

Moscow (AsiaNews) – The Moscow Patriarchate has denied recent reports in Italian media of a possible meeting next month in Latin America between the pope and the primate of the Russian Orthodox Church.

"The Patriarch and the Pope's Latin American visit programs do not intersect," said Hieromonk Stefan (Igumnov), Russian Orthodox Church's spokesman for inter-Christian relations.

"The leader of the Russian Orthodox Church and the head of the Roman Catholic one will be visiting completely different countries, albeit on the same continent," he added.

The spokesman notes that the topic of a meeting between Kirill and Francis is raised in the media from time to time and was repeatedly commented upon by Church officials who said that "a discussion of its possibility is invariably present on the agenda of the bilateral relations, but no specific time and place of such a meeting have yet been stipulated."

In fact, talk about the leaders of the two sister churches possibly meeting in a third country has been going on for years. Italian weekly L'Espresso is the latest to suggest this possibility since both Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill will travel to Latin America next month, to Mexico and Cuba respectively. 

At the same time, “Everyone knows that he is the pope of surprises. If he wants to make a change to his schedule, he will certainly do so,” said Captain Domenico Giani, inspector general of the Vatican Gendarmerie, at the end of a security inspection to Mexico, where Francis will visit on 12-18 February.

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