Russian Orthodox Patriarch, Pope urge international community to seek an end to violence and terrorism

Pope Francis (L) reaches to embrace the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill during a historic meeting in Havana on February 12, 2016. Pope Francis and Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill kissed each other and sat down together Friday at Havana airport for the first meeting between their two branches of the church in nearly a thousand years. AFP PHOTO / POOL - Gregorio Borgia / AFP / POOL / GREGORIO BORGIA (Photo credit should read GREGORIO BORGIA/AFP/Getty Images)

Havana, SANA – The head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill, and Pope Francis signed a joint declaration after their first historic meeting in Havana, Cuba on Friday.

They drew attention to the violence in Iraq and Syria, stressing the severity of the humanitarian problem in the region, and urging the international community to stand up and help, Russian RT reported.

“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 neighboring lands,” the declaration said.

They called on world leaders to prevent Christians in the Middle East from “being completely exterminated” and to help refugees from those regions.

“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,” the declaration stated.

Earlier before the meeting, Patriarch Kirill told the Pontiff “We are meeting at the right time and at the right place,” While Pope Francis addressed to his counterpart when they met “We are brothers, at last.”

The two also discussed the relations between the Churches and the problems of their believers, in addition to sharing views on the progress of human civilization.

The meeting marks the first encounter in history between a Roman Catholic pope and a Russian Orthodox patriarch in the nearly 1,000 years since Eastern Orthodoxy split with Rome.

Barry/H. Said

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