Catholic Church leader Pope Francis is scheduled to meet with the leader of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill, in the unlikely location of Cuba’s international airport.
ABC News reports that the “threadbare international airport” in the West’s only Communist country was settled on for the reconciliation talk between the two Christian leaders due to Cuba’s recent negotiations with the U.S. and the two church leaders’ scheduled tours of Mexico and Latin America, respectively.
The Catholic Church and the Russian Orthodox Church split during the Great Schism of 1054 A.D. They have remained at odds with one another over a variety of differing doctrines, including the primacy of the Pope.
Now, for the first time, the leaders of the two churches will meet in a country that has experienced its own turmoil.
Cuba’s leader, Raul Castro, has opened up communications between Cuba and the U.S., although the country remains a dictatorship and nearly all activities are monitored closely by the government.
Nevertheless, Richard Feinberg, a former Clinton Administration official and a professor of international politics at the University of California, San Diego, has stated, “Fidel was widely perceived as volatile and partisan, Raul as steadier, more predictable and reliable, more reflective, hence a better negotiating partner or host.”
Arturo Lopez-Levy, a Cuban-trained professor at the University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley, added, "Cuba has been transformed from a revolutionary actor, isolated from other states in the Western Hemisphere with the exception of Mexico and Canada.The country has come to be seen as a country in transformation, part of the modern-day international system."
Pope Francis will be making his second visit to Cuba in less than a year. He will then go on to visit Mexico. Patriarch Kirill will be going on to visit Russian Orthodox communities in Latin America.
Publication date: February 11, 2016