Pope Francis to Meet Patriarch Kirill: What You Need to Know - NBC New York
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Pope Francis to Meet Patriarch Kirill: What You Need to Know



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    Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill, right, serves the Christmas Mass in the Christ the Savior Cathedral in Moscow, Russia, on Jan. 7, 2016 and Pope Francis prays during an audience at the Vatican on Saturday, Jan. 30, 2016. Pope Francis and the leader of the Russian Orthodox Church will meet in Cuba next week in a historic step to heal the 1,000-year-old schism that divided Christianity between East and West, both churches announced, Feb. 5, 2016.

    The pope and the patriarch are meeting for the first time today in Cuba and the event will mark a slight closing of Christianity's most enduring divisions 

    The Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches have been at odds for over 1,000 years. Friday's meeting in Havana — where Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill will sign a joint accord — could be a critical step towards helping heal the rift.

    And the meeting itself took two years to plan. The Western and Eastern Christian churches split over persistent theological disputes in 1054 — and formally separated in 1438.

    The Eastern faction later became known as Orthodox Church — which now has 15 separate and equal congregations, Russian Orthodox being the largest.