The leader of the Russian Orthodox Church, His Holiness Kirill, today said that the peoples of Russia and Cuba have been joined for many years by feelings of cooperation and friendship, which are preserved.
The Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, who arrived Thursday in Havana for an official visit until Sunday, said he came to the island in response to an invitation from Cuban President Raul Castro.
In the José Martí International Airport of the capital, where he was received by the President of this Caribbean nation, Kirill recalled that this is his fourth visit to Cuba, as he traveled on three previous occasions while holding other positions in the religious institution.
I will have the opportunity to talk to people and convey the good wishes of the Russian people. I am Patriarch of All Russia, of historical Russia and on its behalf I convey greetings, said from the air terminal.
I wish well and joy to the Cuban people, that God in his mercy and love be with you, he said.
Kirill will hold today a meeting with Pope Francis, who will make a stopover in Havana during his trip to Mexico, in what will be the first meeting ever between the heads of the largest Christian churches in the world.
According to a statement of the Patriarchate of Moscow, the religious leaders will discuss for three hours about the relations between the two churches, the international context and the defense of Christians in the Middle East and North Africa in view of the persecution and genocide.
Kirill’s agenda also includes official talks with the Cuban president, the first foreign leader with whom the Patriarch met after being enthroned on February 1, 2009.
When departing from Russia, the Patriarch predicted that his trip to Latin America, which will also take him to Paraguay and Brazil, will be extensive and complex, but said he visits Cuba with a special feeling.
On Sunday, the Patriarch will offer a divine liturgy in the Russian Orthodox Cathedral Our Lady of Kazan, located on Avenida del Puerto, in Havana.
On November 14, 2004, Kirill, then chairman of the Department of External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate, led the ceremony of laying the first stone of the structure, and four years later, October 19, 2008, celebrated the Divine liturgy of consecration of the temple.