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Pope Francis says willing to visit Moscow to meet Patriarch Kirill

ABOARD THE PAPAL PLANE: Pope Francis said on Monday (Dec 6) he is willing to visit Moscow for his next visit with Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill, which would be the first trip ever by a pope to the Russian capital.

A meeting between Francis and Kirill in Cuba in 2016 was the first ever by a pope and leader of the Russian Orthodox Church since the great schism that split Christianity into Eastern and Western ranches in 1054.

The two sides have both declared willingness to work towards unity but they are still far apart theologically and what role the pope would play in an eventually reunited Church.

"I am willing to go to Moscow to dialogue with a brother," Francis told reporters aboard his plane returning from a trip to Cyprus and Greece.

He said a top Russian Orthodox official was expected in Rome this week to decide the time and location of the meeting.

Francis said working out the protocols would be less important than meeting "brother to brother" with Kirill.

The Pope normally travels to countries with a joint invitation from its religious authorities as well as one from the government, meaning that Francis would most likely need an invitation from President Vladimir Putin to visit Russia.

Source: Reuters/jt


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