Papst Franziskus trifft Patriarch Kyrill

A pope and a patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church have come together for talks for the first time since the Great Schism almost 1,000 years ago. Is the meeting between Francis and Kirill on Cuba a genuine sign of religious unity or is it more of a political move?

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15min (LT) /

Global criticism of pope absurd

The allegations that the pope allowed himself to be used by the Kremlin by meeting with Patriarch Kirill are utter nonsense, the Christian-oriented columnist Tomas Viluckas comments on the liberal news website 15min:

“The Vatican is not part of any bloc or international alliance. ... It attaches more importance to the interests of its faithful than to the games of the major powers. Catholicism does not see human rights, nationalism and democracy as a fundamental basis but gives them theological interpretations. This is why the pope is free to meet dictators, to visit isolated states and to take action in politically complex situations. Using its diplomacy the free Vatican can lend a helping hand in international negotiations. ... It is unacceptable to accuse the pope of naivety or of currying favour with Russia for meeting the Patriarch in Havana. The pope knows what he is doing and his actions are not influenced by the tensions between Russia and the West.”

Gândul (RO) /

Between nationalism and Orthodoxy

The online paper Gândul sees Patriarch Kirill as an unofficial ambassador for the Russian president:

“Orthodoxy and nationalism are two geostrategic cornerstones of new tsar Putin's project. … In autumn 2014, during a visit to a factory that makes aircraft the patriarch delivered a speech of the kind Putin gives - all about Russia's importance as a major power. Kirill's words about the annexation of Crimea, the Ukraine crisis and the operations in Moscow have always expressed justification and approval. It's too early to calculate the significance of the meeting between Kirill and the pope in Havana. … For Pope Francis it is part of his policy of ecumenicalism and creating an open Church. But as far as Patriarch Kirill is concerned we don't really know what geopolitical games he's playing.”

Deutschlandfunk (DE) /

Pope no proponent of Putin's

Even if Moscow is capitalising on the meeting between Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill politically that doesn't change Francis's message, writes public broadcaster Deutschlandfunk:

“The Roman Catholic Church and the Russian Orthodox Church have drawn closer - and Putin will use those pictures. Because the Russian state and the Russian Church are close to each other - very close. Although the Catholic Church is playing it down, Putin and Kirill are ideological brothers in arms. The Orthodox Church has given Russian nationalism its blessing. Or to be more specific: the patriarchy in Moscow recently described the Russian military operations in Syria as holy. … [The pope] would say: please look at the big picture. … In the short or medium term a rapprochement between the Orthodox and Catholic Churches could send the message: Look! Even a conflict that has lasted 1,000 years can be resolved.”

Magyar Nemzet (HU) /

Meeting of historical importance

The meeting between Pope Francis and the Partriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church could mark a turning point in the history of the global Christian community, the conservative daily Magyar Nemzet comments:

“After almost a thousand years of division and contradictions Catholicism and Orthodoxy have reached out to each other in a truly unreal place, the waiting area of Havana airport. The event was more than just a gesture. … It was a symbol that transcends the past and the present. … It was a colossal turning point, a conciliatory move, a major signal to the global religious community. This meeting was a geopolitical necessity, above all in view of the virulent unrest in the Muslim world. The two spiritual leaders had many questions to discuss, among others what the new world we are facing will be like.”