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Pope Francis arrives in Cuba for historic meeting


Pope Francis arrived in Cuba early Friday afternoon for one of the most significant visit of his pontificate.

On his arrival, the Pope was greeted by Cuban President Raúl Castro, who escorted him into the airport for his meeting with Patriarch Kirill of the Russian Orthodox Church in Moscow

The meeting is the first in history between leaders of the Catholic and Russian Orthodox Churches, a major step toward ending a 1,000-year split between Catholicism and Eastern Orthodox.

The split between the two churches has festered over issues such as the primacy of the pope and accusations by the Russian Orthodox Church that the Catholic Church tries to poach converts in Russia.

The meeting will also carry political overtones, coming at a time of Russian disagreements with the West over Syria and Ukraine.

Kirill, is expected to visit Cuba’s small Russian Orthodox Church, built from 2004 to 2008 and attended by Russian holdovers from the decades of Soviet influence in Cuba .

Russia’s president Vladimir Putin has supported the Russian church, which in turn has backed Kremlin foreign policy, most notably in Ukraine and the Middle East.

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