Meeting between Russian patriarch, Pope doesn’t improve Christians’ position in Middle East contrary to expectations – Metropolitan Hilarion

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24 February 2021, 10:00

Meeting between Russian patriarch, Pope doesn’t improve Christians’ position in Middle East contrary to expectations – Metropolitan Hilarion

Moscow, February 24, Interfax – The Russian Orthodox Church acknowledged that the meeting of Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia and Pope Francis in Havana, which took place five years ago, has not resulted in an improvement in the lives of Christians in the Middle East.

The meeting was not of a theological nature, but was devoted primarily to the situation of Middle Eastern Christians, head of the Synodal Department for External Church Relations Metropolitan Hilarion said during the Church and the World program on the Rossiya-24 television channel.

“Five years have passed since then. It cannot be said that the position of Christians in the Middle East has changed for the better, with the exception, perhaps, of Syria, where, thanks to the actions of the Russian army, it was possible to oust terrorists from the main territory of the country, and now there is a gradual and slow restoration of a peaceful, normal life,” the metropolitan said.

At the same time, the Havana meeting had positive consequences in the social field, he said. For instance, the Russian Orthodox Church, together with the Catholic side, is developing projects in the field of charity, social service, and in the cultural sphere.

The fifth anniversary of the Havana meeting was marked by an online conference, which was attended, on the one hand, by the head of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, Cardinal Kurt Koch, and on the other, by Metropolitan Hilarion. They and other representatives of the Russian Orthodox Church and the Vatican discussed the pandemic and shared their experience of survival and pastoral work in this situation.