The Deliberate Choice of Cuba for the Francis-Kirill Meeting
The meeting between the Roman pope and the Russian Orthodox patriarch did not take place in Rome, nor in Moscow. It took place in – of all places – Cuba. But this was not coincidental. It was very, very deliberate.
Just recently, Francis visited Communist Cuba, and met with the Jesuit-trained Castro brothers. I analysed this extremely important papal visit in a previous article, entitled Francis and Fidel. Given the fact that the Russian Orthodox patriarch is, without doubt, a Communist agent himself; given the fact that Francis is very pro-Communist; and given the fact that Communist Cuba is an ally of Russia, the meeting in Cuba, as guests of the Communist government, with a smiling President Raul Castro looking on, was a public relations exercise of note, which further boosted the Communist cause in the world.
We must never under-estimate the importance of symbolism to the Roman Papacy. It well understands that symbols speak more than words, to millions of people. As Papist Robert Moynihan put it before the pope/patriarch meeting took place: “Thus Cuba, the island which, in October 1962, at the time of the Cuban missile crisis, almost became the site of a tragic nuclear confrontation between the US and the USSR, in this way next week will become the site of a very different encounter – an encounter of two world religious leaders, representing two of the great but long-separated traditions of Christianity, that of the Latin West (Catholic) and that of the Greek East (Orthodox, in its Russian form), meeting for the first time.” This meeting, in Communist Cuba, was a massive PR success for Francis. He, as leader of the largest and most powerful religious system on earth, now looks like the man who is bringing West and East together, as no man has ever been able to do before.
In their joint declaration after their meeting, Francis and Kirill made it clear that the choice of Cuba was not coincidental, but pregnant with symbolism: “Our fraternal meeting has taken place in Cuba, at the crossroads of North and South, East and West. It is from this island, the symbol of the hopes of the ‘New World’ and the dramatic events of the history of the twentieth century, that we address our words to all the peoples of Latin America and of the other continents.”
After the signing of the declaration, Francis and Kirill exchanged a “kiss of peace”. Then they addressed members of their delegations and of the press. In his address, Francis said: “We have spoken as brothers. We have the same baptism. We are bishops. We have spoken of our Churches. We agree that unity is made in the process of walking forward…. I don’t want to go without giving a heartfelt thank you to Cuba, to the great Cuban people, and to their president here present, Raul Castro. I thank you for your active availability. If it continues like this, Cuba will be the capital of unity.” Yes, symbolism speaks more than words could ever do, as far as Francis and his Jesuits are concerned. Cuba has been brought in from the cold. No longer the pariah state, thanks to Francis it is now a symbol of the coming together of West and East, America and Russia, Capitalism and Communism, Roman Catholicism and Russian Orthodoxy.
We are witnessing extraordinary scenes.