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We are brothers and bishops

· Pope Francis in Mexico after the historic embrace with Patriarch Kirill in Havana ·

“We are not competitors but brothers”. Motivated by this conviction – which is written in black and white in the Common Declaration signed on Friday afternoon, 12 February – Pope Francis and Kirill, Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, met at the airport in Havana, the first historic leg of the journey that has brought the Pope to Mexico.

In a nearly thousand-year history of division, this was the first embrace between two “brothers” and two “bishops” spurred by the same “pastoral concerns”, as the Pontiff explained during the flight from Havana to Mexico City, where he arrived on Friday evening. “You could feel the joy”, Francis said as he described the spirit of the conversation that lasted almost two hours. It concluded with the signing of the Joint Declaration and the exchange of two brief addresses. The Patriarch and the Pope both remarked on the willingness to listen and the mutual understanding that characterized their dialogue. A dialogue from which, Kirill confirmed, the will to “cooperate” and “work together” above all on several important issues that call the commitment of all faithful: the persecution of Christians around the world, war, attacks on human life, the family and ethics, as well as the Church’s participation in the life of society.

“Unity is made on the journey”, Pope Francis stated, with particular emphasis on the Patriarch’s attitude of “fraternal humility”, and admitting to having “felt the presence of the Holy Spirit in our conversation”. The Pontiff also expressed appreciation to the President and the people of Cuba, who were willing to make this meeting possible. “If Cuba continues in this way”, he said, “it will become the capital of unity.




St. Peter’s Square

Dec. 10, 2019