This visit, or to be more precise ~2 hour stopover enroute to Mexico, has not received much publicity in the U.S.
The purpose of this visit is for an HISTORIC meeting with the head of the Russian Orthodox Church — on neutral ground.
The claim is that the two will sign a joint declaration condemning violence against Christians in the Middle East — now with Russia such a key player in Syria and Iran.
Though not stated they may also discuss the possibility of standardizing when Easter Sunday will be celebrated across the two Churches.
Agreeing on matters further could be prickly since a major stumbling block between what the two Churches believe in is the role of the pope! The Orthodox Church does not believe that the Pope has the right to be the head of Christians on Earth — that being the role of Christ. And then there is the Filioque (‘from the son’) addition in the Nicene creed (and that is BIGGIE).
As far as we have been told Pope Francis will not leave the Airport. There is also no mention whether any of the Castros will be at the airport to greet him.
John Paul II, in 1984, set the precedent for such ‘Airport Only’ stopover meetings when he met with Ronald Reagan at the Fairbanks Airport in Alaska. The two had also met at the airport in Anchorage Alaska 3 years earlier BUT in that instance the pope did visit the City to celebrate a Mass.
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