Sao Paolo, February 21, 2016
Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Kirill hopes his recent meeting with Pope Francis will lower the tension in relations between Russia and NATO, he said himself as he looked back on his nearly two-week-long tour of Latin America and Antarctica.
The patriarch said it was "a meeting of two people, concerned about what is happening in the world, hence the huge tension between the East and the West, or rather between Russia and NATO, to be precise."
"This very concern resulted in a serious discussion, which was characterized by very high common understanding of the issues, which only yesterday seemed complicated for any accord between the pope and the patriarch," he said.
The first-ever tour by the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia to Latin America, which took him to Cuba, Paraguay and Brazil and also to Antarctica, began on February 11 and is ending on February 22. The most important event during this trip, certainly destined to go down in history, was a meeting of the heads of the Roman Catholic and Russian Orthodox Churches. Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill met in Havana on February 12 to sign a joint declaration and call upon the world community to present a joint front for protecting Christians in the Middle East and other regions. The East-West Schism occurred in 1054.
An example of ideal society without weapons or wars, where live peacefully people of different ethnicities and cultures has seen Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Kirill at the Waterloo Island, where he met staff of the Bellingshausen research station on February 17.
The patriarch shared his impressions with the media as he looked back on his nearly two-week-long tour of Latin America and Antarctica.
"As I learned how they help each other, regardless of nationalities; how high the level of solidarity is there; the lack of any evils or hostile competitions; no weapons, no military actions of any kind, no scientific research aimed at killing people by other people - aren’t those features of an ideal society," he said.
From this rather complicated trip Patriarch Kirill is returning with confidence the Antarctica "is truly some physical image of an ideal society, where people live in peace, though they are different, where the natural environment is protected as strictly as nowhere else in the world."
He continued saying "our Bellingshausen research station looks quite fine, though there is still a lot to be done, the level is to be raised, and so forth."
The patriarch said he decided to visit the Antarctica at the "heartily" invitation from the research station’s staff as they learned he would be visiting Latin American countries. He was especially happy to pray at the only church in the southern polar area of the globe, with regular services and a priest.
"Of course, being rather close from the Antarctica, it would have been probably unfair not to visit those heroic people, not to pray with them," he said.
Patriarch Kirill, of Moscow and All Russia, believes that re-unification of the Russian Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches, should it ever happen, will be a miracle he is unlikely to live to see. In front of a media audience Patriarch Kirill shared some impressions of his nearly two-week long tour of Latin America and a meeting with Pope Francis in Havana.
"As for reunification (of the Russian Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church - TASS), it would be a divine miracle, if we are destined to live to see it. I have no certainty I will see it happen myself, but probably some people will witness it some day," Patriarch Kirill said.
He pointed out that an agreement between two leaders was unable to bring churches closer together, let alone unite them again.
"I will say more: churches cannot be united even if all hierarchs (Catholic and Orthodox - TASS) are unanimous," Patriarch Kirill said.
He called on the congregation to feel no fear his meeting with the Pope might entail any changes to liturgical affairs. Theological issues were not discussed at the meeting and the disagreements were still there, he remarked.
"We declare honestly that the schism remains," Patriarch Kirill said. "We adhere to the stance of our fathers."
Latin America is almost Russia, though with the hot tropical climate, Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Kirill said as he looked back on his nearly two-week-long tour of Latin America and Antarctica.
"Latin America is almost Russia, only with hot tropical climate," he said. "There is word "manana" in Spanish, which means "tomorrow". And if you are told a meeting is due ‘manana’, you cannot be sure whether it will be tomorrow, the day after tomorrow or even later."
"Besides," he said, "the emotional religious level resembles a lot what we have among our people."
"There exist two regions, with which may be connected a hope for renaissance of Christianity - they are Russia and Latin America," Kirill said. "This is why as I became patriarch, I wanted very much to visit Latin America."
He is "deeply confident, that region is a spiritual potential, though there is one risk: some signs of de-Christianity are emerging here." Those are mostly consequences from activities of missioners from developed countries, which thus weaken positions of the Catholic Church. "But, most importantly, some political forces trend to copy the political models of the North, where religious positions of people are ignored."