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Head of the Russian Orthodox Church awaits Pope Francis for meeting in Cuba

Two religious leaders to hold symbolic meeting in Havana

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HAVANA – A historic meeting between two religious leaders will take place in Cuba on Friday.

Patriarch Kirill, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, made his way to Havana on Thursday - one day ahead of his scheduled meeting with Pope Francis. Patriarch Kirill was agreed at the Jose Marti International Airport in Havana by Raul Castro, Cuba's president.

Meanwhile, Pope Francis has left Rome to begin a seven-day trip that will take him to Mexico, for a five-day visit, before he makes a stop in Havana to meet the orthodox leader. A plane carrying the Pope departed early Friday.

According to the Vatican, during the visit in Cuba, the two religious leaders will talk privately, deliver public speeches, and sign a joint statement.

The meeting between Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill will be the first meeting between a Roman Catholic Pope and a Russian Orthodox Patriarch. Many believe the meeting will inspire improved Catholic-Orthodox relations.