Picture: Icon of Our Lady of Kazan (credit: Mospat.ru)

Cuba – Meeting of the Pope and Patriarch:

A Mutual Cry for Peace


Moscow/Montreal – Friday February 12, 2016 – The Russia expert for the Pontifical Foundation Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) describes the upcoming meeting between Pope Francis and Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill as a “sensation” and a “cause for great joy.” He said that it fulfils a dream that Pope John Paul II had already held dear. The announcement of the meeting, which will take place on 12 February in Cuba, was “on the one hand a surprise.” On the other hand, however, “many years and a great deal of preparatory work have gone into this.”

Peter Humeniuk, project officer for Russia at ACN.
Peter Humeniuk, project officer for Russia at ACN.


Peter Humeniuk emphasized that the fact that the meeting is going to happen faster than expected “is also due to the dramatic international situation.” To quote him, “In our times, we are witnessing the persecution of Christians to an extent that has never been seen before and that threatens the existence of Christianity in parts of the world. When the world is on fire, individual issues pertaining to ecclesiastical politics play a subordinate role. Bearing witness together is more important than ever before!” He considers the meeting a “mutual cry for peace.”


Progress over several decades


Mr Humeniuk continued by saying that just because the two church leaders have yet to meet in person does not mean that “there has never been any kind of cooperation.” The meeting is therefore “a culmination of what has been achieved up until now but is based on something that has already been a work in progress for several decades.”


There have already been many occasions in the past when both churches have spoken with one voice. Mr Humeniuk said, “One example I would like to mention occurred in September of 2013, when Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill raised their voices in support of peace in Syria. At the time, Patriarch Kirill wrote to President Obama, Pope Francis and President Putin. It is to be expected that the cooperation will become deeper and more intense following the meeting. It was also announced that the meeting would include the joint signing of a document. This shows that the preparatory work was successful and one can hope and pray that this will lead to a bountiful harvest.”


Art workshop on the establishment of a rehabilitation center for drug addicts in Sapernoe Saint-Petersburg region


According to Mr Humeniuk, for the aid organization Aid to the Church in Need, which has been working towards dialogue between the Catholic and the Russian Orthodox Church for almost 25 years, the meeting between the Pope and the Patriarch of Moscow is “of course an incentive and a confirmation to continue along this path.” He emphasized, “We are also searching for new forms of cooperation, which should manifest themselves in new projects and joint campaigns. Important spheres of activity are opening up, such as standing up together against the persecution of Christians or in support of the Christian family. There is much to do here and both churches have demonstrated a strong willingness to search for solutions together and to bear witness together. And in view of the international situation, the churches can only make themselves heard by raising their voices together to put forth a cry for peace. For Aid to the Church in Need it is clear that we will continue to do what we can to move forward along this path.”
















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