Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill sign an Ecumenical Declaration in the first such meeting between leaders of the Catholic and Russian Orthodox Churches since their schism in 1054.
The Joint Declaration of Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill, also known as the Havana Declaration, was issued following the first meeting in February 2016 between Pope Francis, who as the Bishop of Rome is the pontiff of the Catholic Church, and Patriarch Kirill of Moscow, Patriarch of Moscow and all Rus', Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC), the largest of the Eastern Orthodox churches. This was the first time leaders of the Roman Church and the Moscow Patriarchate had met. While the meeting was also seen as a symbolic moment in the history of relations between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox churches as a community, which had split in the Great Schism of 1054, centuries before the Moscow Patriarchate was constituted, it was not expected to lead to any immediate rapprochement between them.
The 30-point declaration contains a joint call by the two church primates for an end to the persecution of Christians in the Middle East and to wars in the region, expressing their hope that the meeting might contribute to the re-establishment of Christian unity between the two churches. A range of other issues are mentioned in the declaration, including atheism, secularism, consumerism, migrants and refugees, the importance of marriage and the family, and concerns relating to abortion and euthanasia.
According to the ROC leadershipâ€²s public statements made prior and after the Havana meeting, while the document stresses that both churches share the Tradition of the first millennium of Christianity, the discussion during the meeting did not attempt to mend any of the persisting doctrinal and ecclesiastical differences between the two churches.The Declaration however includes statements about Eastern Catholic Churches in line with the Balamand declaration as well as the conflict in Ukraine. The Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church expressed disappointment and Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kyivan Patriarchate criticised the latter.