The Francis-Kirill Meeting: Much Ado About Very Little

The Francis-Kirill Meeting: Much Ado About Very Little

by Christopher A. Ferrara
February 11, 2016

With the Church now governed by the demands of public relations and the publicity stunt, according to which the success of a pontificate is determined by the number of events that attract major press coverage, I suppose it is the very biggest of big deals that “for the first time in history the Successor of Peter and the Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church will meet…” But really, what does all the hoo-hah amount to?

Look at the facts: The meeting, to last some two hours, will take place tomorrow (February 12) in Havana’s José Martí International Airport, where Francis has amended his itinerary to accommodate a stop on his way to Mexico. As for the Russian Patriarch Kirill, what is he doing in Cuba on the same day? Kirill will be there on an “official visit,” according to the “foreign minister” of the Russian Orthodox Church. (As a virtual organ of the Russian state, the Russian Orthodox Church has a “foreign minister”.)

So it would seem that Kirill’s visit is part of the increasingly cozy relations between Putin and the Castro brothers, with the mass-murdering Raul Castro continuing to maintain the iron grip of communism on the “worker’s paradise” 90 miles from Florida. So cozy are those relations that Newsweek has run an article entitled “WHY RUSSIA AND CUBA ARE PARTYING LIKE IT’S 1962.”

The outcome of the meeting in the airport will be a “joint declaration” concerning the persecution of Christians in the Middle East and in northern and central Africa, no doubt carefully worded to avoid offending Muslims by mentioning the indispensable role of their religion in the persecution. There will be no discussion of the thousand-year-long Orthodox schism from Rome because, quite simply, the post-Vatican II hierarchy no longer speaks of schism as it endlessly pursues utterly pointless “ecumenical dialogue,” whereas the Orthodox party, having no intention ever to reunite with Rome and submit to the authority of the Roman Pontiff, denounces “the heresy of ecumenism,” as the Ukrainian Catholic Patriarch Sviatoslav Shevchuk observes with justified irony.

And so the first-ever meeting of a Pope and a Russian Orthodox Patriarch will produce a toothless declaration deploring persecution and do absolutely nothing to mend the schism of 1054, But it will provide yet another public relations coup for Pope Francis — and also for the brothers Castro, whose own PR coup was Francis’ earlier friendly (if not fawning) visit with both of them last June. It will also be something of a PR coup for Kirill, for the Roman Pontiff has come panting after him in Cuba, changing his Mexican itinerary to do so: “I’ll go wherever you want. You call me and I’ll go,” he said to Kirill last November by telephone.

Meanwhile, the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church (UGCC), now suffering “total persecution” in Crimea following its annexation by Russia, is reduced to the faint hope that “the very fact of the meeting will change some of the radical rhetoric coming from the Russian Orthodox, who do not recognize the Catholic Church as valid, re-baptize Catholics and entice them to become Orthodox….” As always, “ecumenism” is a one-way street in the direction of the non-Catholic party, which is why I call it “we-become-like-you-menism.”

For his part, Ukrainian Catholic Partriach Sviatoslav stated: “I hope that the Pope Francis, who always raises his voice in defense of the weak, becomes the voice of Ukrainians leading their struggle for cohesion and unity of their country [including Crimea]. God grant that Patriarch Kirill will, as a result of the meeting, give the necessary instructions to the Russian Orthodox Church and the Russian authorities, to quickly end the war against Ukraine and arrive at a just peace.”

Nothing of the kind will happen, of course. Putting aside the complex question of who is to blame for what in the Ukrainian situation, the only thing that will bring peace to Crimea, to Ukraine, to Russia, to the world at large, is Russia’s consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Until then, there can be neither peace, nor an end to the evils of the Orthodox schism, which my good friend and colleague, John Vennari, essays extensively here.

The two-hour meeting at the airport in Cuba will thus be just another bit of ephemera in the ephemeral “renewal” of the Church that was supposed to have begun at Vatican II.

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7 comments on “The Francis-Kirill Meeting: Much Ado About Very Little

  1. Before we should even ask for the “conversion of Russia”, we should be asking for the conversion of Ukraine Catholics to the heart if Mary. The Catholic Ukrainians are notoriously racist and pro-nazi. During World War II, under their guerilla war leader Bandera, they massacred OVER 100,000 Poles alone, not to add mention additional persecution of Lemke/Ruthenian Catholics, and Jews. Imagine, the Western Ukrainian Catholics murdered their own Roman Catholic brothers! Storied were told about intermarriages between Poles and Ukrainians. Your children are baptised depending on the rite of your parent of your same sex. If one is Roman Catholic he is the son of a Roman father. You are baptised Ukrainian if you are the SON of s Ukrainian Catholic father. You are Roman if you are a daughter of a Roman mother. You are Ukrainian if you are the daughter of a Ukrainian mother. The Ukrainian Catholic was left alone and the Roman Catholic sibling was killed. This prowestern Ukraine was friendly with the Nazis and against the Russians. God is punishing these unrepentant people for their sins. The Orthodox were far more tolerant toward the Poles and other ethnic groups.Instead of ethnic cleansing, they were more interested in absorbing them into the general culture and faith.

  2. I should also add that the Ukrainian Catholics went door to door in the small towns and villages and killed innocent civilians in their own home. Including elderly granothers. How is it proud to be Ukrainian? Better to be noncommunist Russian!

  3. In Joint Declaration, Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill Defend Religious Freedom, Marriage, Life of Unborn
    [Ex-Maciel-cult priest and ex-priest, Thomas D. Williams, Ph.D., thinks the meeting is just ducky.]

    Blah, blah. Blah, blah blah. And TDW ends with this nonsense from the “declaration”

    In the contemporary world, which is both multiform yet united by a shared destiny, Catholics and Orthodox are called to work together fraternally in proclaiming the Good News of salvation, to testify together to the moral dignity and authentic freedom of the person, “so that the world may believe.”

    The horror of the pope giving obeisance to a KGB “patriarch” under Castro’s nose escapes Williams, as does the horror of what they signed.

    • Pope and Patriarch of Moscow decry persecution of Mideast Christians, don’t name persecutor, call for dialogue

      Jihad Watch

      The Pope and the Patriarch of Moscow met in Havana. What an interesting choice for a meeting place. Were they reporting to their superiors? Anyway, while there, they decried the Muslim persecution of Middle Eastern Christians. To them, however, it isn’t the Muslim persecution of Christians, but just the persecution of Christians by some mysterious unnamed agent. They speak about it entirely in the passive voice, as if no one were actually doing it. It could just as well be an earthquake or a hurricane. Yet even though they don’t dare to speak honestly about what is happening and why, they seem to think that “interreligious dialogue” will help solve the problem — as if “dialogue” is going to make the Qur’anic imperative to make war against and subjugate Christians (9:29) go away. They’re whistling in the dark, like most all Christian clerics nowadays.

      “Joint Declaration of Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill,” Vatican Radio, February 2, 2016:

      8. Our gaze must firstly turn to those regions of the world where Christians are victims of persecution. In many countries of the Middle East and North Africa whole families, villages and cities of our brothers and sisters in Christ are being completely exterminated. Their churches are being barbarously ravaged and looted, their sacred objects profaned, their monuments destroyed. It is with pain that we call to mind the situation in Syria, Iraq and other countries of the Middle East, and the massive exodus of Christians from the land in which our faith was first disseminated and in which they have lived since the time of the Apostles, together with other religious communities.

      9. We call upon the international community to act urgently in order to prevent the further expulsion of Christians from the Middle East. In raising our voice in defence of persecuted Christians, we wish to express our compassion for the suffering experienced by the faithful of other religious traditions who have also become victims of civil war, chaos and terrorist violence.

      10. Thousands of victims have already been claimed in the violence in Syria and Iraq, which has left many other millions without a home or means of sustenance. We urge the international community to seek an end to the violence and terrorism and, at the same time, to contribute through dialogue to a swift return to civil peace. Large–scale humanitarian aid must be assured to the afflicted populations and to the many refugees seeking safety in neighbouring lands.

      We call upon all those whose influence can be brought to bear upon the destiny of those kidnapped, including the Metropolitans of Aleppo, Paul and John Ibrahim, who were taken in April 2013, to make every effort to ensure their prompt liberation.

      11. We lift our prayers to Christ, the Saviour of the world, asking for the return of peace in the Middle East, “the fruit of justice” (Is 32:17), so that fraternal co–existence among the various populations, Churches and religions may be strengthened, enabling refugees to return to their homes, wounds to be healed, and the souls of the slain innocent to rest in peace.

      We address, in a fervent appeal, all the parts that may be involved in the conflicts to demonstrate good will and to take part in the negotiating table. At the same time, the international community must undertake every possible effort to end terrorism through common, joint and coordinated action. We call on all the countries involved in the struggle against terrorism to responsible and prudent action. We exhort all Christians and all believers of God to pray fervently to the providential Creator of the world to protect His creation from destruction and not permit a new world war. In order to ensure a solid and enduring peace, specific efforts must be undertaken to rediscover the common values uniting us, based on the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.

      12. We bow before the martyrdom of those who, at the cost of their own lives, have given witness to the truth of the Gospel, preferring death to the denial of Christ. We believe that these martyrs of our times, who belong to various Churches but who are united by their shared suffering, are a pledge of the unity of Christians. It is to you who suffer for Christ’s sake that the word of the Apostle is directed: “Beloved … rejoice to the extent that you share in the sufferings of Christ, so that when his glory is revealed you may also rejoice exultantly” (1 Pet 4:12–13).

      13. Interreligious dialogue is indispensable in our disturbing times. Differences in the understanding of religious truths must not impede people of different faiths to live in peace and harmony. In our current context, religious leaders have the particular responsibility to educate their faithful in a spirit which is respectful of the convictions of those belonging to other religious traditions. Attempts to justify criminal acts with religious slogans are altogether unacceptable. No crime may be committed in God’s name, “since God is not the God of disorder but of peace” (1 Cor 14:33).


    13 February 2016 | Religious Information Service of Ukraine

    Rev Peter Galadza, Acting Director and Kule Family Professor of Liturgy Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky Institute of Eastern Christian Studies (Ottawa) commented on joint statement signed in Havana:

    “The inability to get any kind of reference in the joint statement to foreign aggression in Ukraine is a major flaw in an otherwise decent statement – Ukrainians worldwide will be very disappointed. And Antonii Pakanych’s (metripolitan of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Moscow Patriarchate) prominence in the Moscow Patriarchate delegation without anyone even remotely representative of Eastern Catholicism (not to mention Ukr. Gr. Catholicism) is also very unfortunate.”

    Rev Andriy Chirovsky “very initial comments” on joint declaration signed in Havana today.

    “All three paragraphs about Ukraine are very disappointing.

    #25 basically calls us [Eastern Catholics] an “ecclesial community” Moscow wins.

    “’Uniatism’, understood as the union of one community to the other, separating it from its Church, “ is an ambiguous definition. Again, we are just a community. I remember the Quadripartite Commission in 1990: “communities of Catholics of the Byzantine Rite” Studious avoidance of calling us CHURCH.

    #26 No mention of foreign aggression. Moscow wins.

    “Churches refraining from taking part in confrontation” This refers to our Church supporting a defensive war. remember the Feb 5 Press conference, where Ilarion accused us of inciting conflict

    #26 The “canonical” language is a way to put down the UOC-KP and UAOC [Ukrainian Orthodox churches that separated from the Moscow-controlled UOC-MP]. Moscow decides what is canonical. Catholics need “to contribute to this” instead of “supporting the schismatics” as Ilarion accused us on Feb 5. Moscow Wins”

  5. “To them, however, it isn’t the Muslim persecution of Christians, but just the persecution of Christians by some mysterious unnamed agent. They speak about it entirely in the passive voice, as if no one were actually doing it. It could just as well be an earthquake or a hurricane.”

    Am I the only one who really gets the impression that we Catholics are being led by total idiots?

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