10 February 2016, 10:03
Russian govt not involved in preparing Patriarch-Pope meeting - spokesman
Moscow, February 10, Interfax - Vladimir Legoyda, head of the Russian Orthodox Church's Synodal Department for Public and Media Relations, dismissed suggestions that the Russian political leadership was involved in the organization of a meeting between Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia and Pope Francis.
"The Russian government did not take part in the negotiations on organizing the upcoming historic meeting between the Holy Patriarch and the Pope in Cuba," the press service quoted Legoyda as saying in his speech at the Royal Institute of International Affairs (Chatham House) in London.
The Russian Orthodox Church had repeatedly said earlier that the contacts between the two Churches were developing independently of interstate contacts between Russia and the Vatican.
While a lot of problems between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church remain unresolved, "the protection of Christians in the Middle East from genocide is a challenge that calls for urgent joint efforts," Legoyda said.
"The exodus of Christians from the Middle Eastern and North African countries is a disaster for the entire world," he said.
The Patriarch and the Pope will also discuss "common challenges to Christianity in the modern world," he said.
It was reported earlier that Patriarch Kirill and Pope Francis should meet in Havana on February 12. This is going to be the first meeting between a Patriarch of Moscow and a Pope in history. Its organization has been on the agenda of relations between the two Churches for about 20 years. Pope Francis admitted on Monday that the upcoming meeting had been prepared in secrecy for two years.
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