HAVANA – Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill on the weekend paid a visit to former Cuban President Fidel Castro, with whom he discussed issues such as preserving peace and the survival of humanity, state-run media on the communist island reported.
Castro “had words of acknowledgement for Holy Patriarch Kirill for his important contribution to strengthening friendship between the Russian and Cuban peoples and the spread of the values that unite them,” the daily Juventud Rebelde reported.
Appearing in the paper were also photographs of the Saturday encounter at Castro’s home showing the former Cuban leader wearing a white sports jacket and black muffler.
Castro and the Russian patriarch spoke about the cause of the poor and the fight against discrimination and commented on “the good state of relations between Russia and Cuba, based on deep feelings and ties of friendship,” the note said.
It added that the meeting took place in a “relaxed atmosphere of respect and agreement” on the various matters discussed.
Castro, 89 and retired from power since 2006, had met with Kirill eight years ago, when the Russian then-metropolitan traveled to the island to consecrate the Russian Orthodox cathedral in Havana, where on Sunday he presented a liturgy before concluding his visit to the island.
The latest images of the former Cuban leader had been published in September 2015 after he met with Pope Francis at Havana’s Jose Marti International Airport during the pontiff’s visit to the Caribbean island.
This was Kirill’s fourth visit to Cuba and it was marked by the unprecedented meeting between the pontiff and patriarch during Francis’s brief stopover there on Friday en route to Mexico. That was the first meeting between the heads of the two churches since 1054.
At their meeting, Kirill and Francis signed a statement defining the position of the Orthodox and Catholic faithful on the great problems facing humanity, including migration, the persecution of Christians, inequality among nations and poverty.
After presiding at the service at the Our Lady of Kazan Cathedral, which was attended by President Raul Castro, Kirill was seen off at the airport by him and continued his Latin American tour that will also take him to Paraguay and Brazil.