Patriarch-pope meeting disrupts Cuban aviation


RIA Novosti, 10 February 2016


Several details of the first meeting in history of the heads of the Russian Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches on Friday in the Havana (Cuba) International Airport have been learned. It will begin about 2:00 p.m. local time (around 22:00 Moscow time) on 12 February and may last three hours, until 5:00 p.m., Havana time (1:00 a.m. Moscow time), a source in the Moscow patriarchate told RIA Novosti.


Direct broadcast of the first fifteen minutes of conversation will be carried by television channels Russia Today, Rossiia 24, and Euronews. Journalists will be able to be eyewitnesses of the historic event—about 70 person from the Catholic side and about 30 persons from the patriarchal pool. Then the meeting will go behind closed doors. On the basis of its results, Patriarch of Moscow and all-Rus Kirill and Roman Pope Francis will sign a joint declaration and address the delegations and the press.


The patriarch and pontiff will enter the meeting room from two doors located opposite each other. A crucifix will be situated next to the primates of the two largest Christian churches. The conversations will be conducted in Russian and Spanish with consecutive translation.


The historic meeting will be attended by the chairman of the Department of External Church Relations of the Moscow patriarchate, Metropolitan of Volokolamsk Ilarion, and the director of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Church Unity, Cardinal Kurt Koch. In addition, during the exchange of gifts the president of the State Council of Cuba, Raul Castro, will join the patriarch and pontiff.


The Cuban Aviation Corporation announced on Tuesday changes in the work schedule of Jose Marti International Airport, in which the historic meeting of the Roman pope and patriarch is scheduled. During the visit of the primate of the RPTs and his conversations with the pontiff, departures and landings of planes from the first terminal of the capital airport will be moved to an airport on the outskirts of the Cuban capital. Havana air transport will return to normal at midnight of 14 February (8:00 a.m., 15 Feb. Moscow time). (tr. by PDS, posted 12 February 2016)

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