Pope's and Russian Patriarch's Meeting Vital Amid Persecution of Christians

© Sputnik / Valery Melnikov / Go to the photo bankFile Photo: A resident of a village in the province of al-Hasake in the north-east of Syria prays in St. George's Church destroyed by Daesh terrorists.
File Photo: A resident of a village in the province of al-Hasake in the north-east of Syria prays in St. George's Church destroyed by Daesh terrorists. - Sputnik International
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The first ever meeting between the heads of the Catholic Church and the Russian Orthodox Church is of vital importance considering the fact that all Christians live under the constant threat of total persecution in many parts of the world, according to Archpriest Alexander Lebedeff.

WASHINGTON (Sputnik) – The historic meeting between Pope Francis and Russian Patriarch Kirill is especially important today amid persecution of Christians, secretary of Inter-Orthodox Relations of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad, Archpriest Alexander Lebedeff told Sputnik on Sunday.

"Most important, however, is the fact that today, regardless of confessional adherence, Christians are threatened not only by persecution but by total annihilation in many parts of the world, specifically in the Near East and Northern and Central Africa," Lebedeff said in a written statement.

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Pope Francis will meet with the head of Russian Orthodox Church Kirill on February 12 in Cuba, in what will become the first face-to-face engagement between the heads of the two churches. The two church leaders will meet at the Havana airport, with the persecution of Christians in the Middle East reportedly the primary issue to be discussed at the meeting.

The Latin-dominated Catholic Church and the Greek-dominated Eastern Orthodox Church split in 1054 over theological and ecclesiastical differences. The split is known as the East-West Schism, or the Great Schism.

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