MOSCOW, February 3.—The Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and all Russia received President Raúl Castro Ruz yesterday afternoon.
The Kirill and the Cuban president spoke for a little over one hour in Moscow’s Christ the Savior Cathedral two days after the consecration of the Metropolitan (senior archbishop) as the 16th Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church, following the death of Alexis II last December.
In the Visitors Book of Russia’s most important Orthodox Cathedral, Raúl wrote:
“Our admiration and respect for this beautiful house of God, the Christ the Savior Cathedral, in honor of the great victory of the Russian people against the invaders of their homeland in 1812.”
The Cuban leader was the first foreign head of state, apart from the CIS countries, to be received by the Patriarch during an official visit.
That was affirmed by Deacon Alexander Volkov, the Patriarch of Moscow’s press liaison, who highlighted the role played by the Cuban head of state in maintaining positive relations with the Russian Orthodox Church.
He described him as a friend of the Church and thanked the Cuban authorities for their support in the construction and consecration of an Orthodox Cathedral in Havana.
Before the meeting, Raúl made a lengthy tour of the Cathedral accompanied by Father Mikhail, guardian of the Cathedral, who recounted part of its history.
The Patriarch, as the Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk and Kaliningrad, traveled to Havana in 2004 to place the cornerstone for the Havana Cathedral together with Fidel, and in October of 2008 he led the consecration ceremony at the Our Lady of Kazan Cathedral.
The meeting with the Patriarch Kirill was the Cuban president’s last official activity of his visit to the Russian Federation.