At a recent press conference in Rome, Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk said, “It is necessary to put aside internal disagreements and unite efforts for saving Christianity in the regions where it is subjected to the most severe persecution.” Hilarion is the chairman of the Department for External Church Relations of the Russian Orthodox Church.
According to the Metropolitan, unity was never possible between the Orthodox and Catholic Church because of festering open wounds between them over a worsening situation in Ukraine. He said it is a “never-healing blooding wound that prevents the full normalization of relations between the two Churches.”
“Nevertheless,” Metropolitan Hilarion said, “the situation as it has developed today in the Middle East, in North and Central Africa and in some other regions, in which extremists are perpetrating a real genocide of the Christian population, has required urgent measures and closer cooperation between Christian Churches. In the present tragic situation, it is necessary to put aside internal disagreements and unite efforts for saving Christianity in the regions where it is subjected to the most severe persecution.”
The Russian Orthodox Sacred Bishops’ Council “called to make the year 2016 a year of special efforts to be taken in this respect.”
“Therefore,” Hilarion continued, “despite the remaining obstacles of ecclesial nature, it has been decided that a meeting should be urgently held between His Holiness Patriarch Kirill and Pope Francis of Rome. The problem of the persecution against Christians will become central at this meeting.”
The meeting took place in Cuba. Patriarch Kirill did not want the meeting to take place in Europe because of historic divisions and conflicts. Coincidentally, the Patriarch’s visit to Latin American coincides with the Papal visit to Mexico. They agreed to meet in Cuba to sign a joint statement.
It is significant that after years of negotiations which have reached no agreement, that radical Islam is the catalyst for the two churches to join together to oppose the Islamic State.
“All the world wondered…” Revelation 13:3