Ecumenical Diplomacy – Rome and Moscow, a new era

In a joint statement, Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill of Moscow gave thanks to God for their meeting, “the first in history.” (§1) The meeting of the Bishop of Rome and the head of the Russian Orthodox Church on February 12 of this year, in Cuba, was indeed a historic moment. If nothing else, because first times tend to go down in history as such. But contrary to some comments, it was not the first time that a Patriarch of Moscow met with a Pope of Rome after a wait of a millennium. The reason is simple: there was no Patriarchate of Moscow a thousand years ago. The Russian Orthodox Church has only existed as an autocephalous Church, independent from the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, since the middle of the 15th century, and as a Patriarchate since 1589.

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