On the afternoon of February 11, Raúl Castro Ruz, President of Cuba’s Councils of State and Ministers, received His Holiness Kirill, at Havana’s José Martí International Airport, who is making his first pastoral visit to the island as Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church.
Also present for the welcome were Esteban Lazo Hernández, president of the National Assembly of People’s Power; Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla; both members of the Party Political Bureau; Marta Hernández, president of the Provincial Assembly of People’s Power in Havana; Caridad Diego, head of the Office of Religious Affairs of the Party Central Committee, Russian Ambassador to Cuba Mijaíl Kaminin; and other Orthodox Church authorities.
Speaking on arrival, Patriarch Kirill expressed his joy to be making his fourth visit to the island, invited by Army General Raúl Castro Ruz, while noting that “the people of Cuba and Russia are united by longstanding ties, collaboration and friendship.”
“Here, I will have the opportunity to speak with the people, to convey to them the good wishes of the Russian people,” he stated.
“I am not only Patriarch of Moscow, but of all Russia, of ancient and illustrious Russia, thus I convey to you the greetings of all the people of illustrious Russia. I wish wellbeing and joy to each and every Cuban. May merciful and loving God be with you all,” he stated.
After the welcoming ceremony, His Holiness Kirill and Cuban President Raúl Castro held a meeting in one of the airport’s function rooms.
As part of his scheduled activities, the Russian Patriarch will meet with Pope Francis at the José Martí International Airport today, Friday 12, who is making a stop in Cuba en route to Mexico.
According to a joint statement issued by the Vatican and Moscow Patriarchate, the two leaders will hold talks in Havana and sign a joint declaration.
Today, His Holiness Kirill will pay tribute to Cuba’s national hero José Martí and pay a courtesy call to President Raúl Castro Ruz. On Saturday, February 13, the Patriarch is scheduled to visit the Mausoleum of theSovietInternationalist Soldier, the Solidaridad con Panamá School for children with special needs, and attend a show at the capital’s Martí Theater. Rounding off the day, he will be presented with the José Martí Order and offer a Divine Liturgy before he departs on Sunday, February 14.