Fidel Castro Hails Catholic-Orthodox Talks in Cuba


Cuba's former revolutionary president Fidel Castro on Monday said the historic meeting in his country between the heads of the Catholic and Russian Orthodox churches raised worldwide hope for peace.

"The singular importance of the meeting between Pope Francis and His Holiness Kirill in Havana is that it raised hope for people around the world," Castro wrote in an article in state media.

"Peace has been the golden dream of humanity and the yearning of peoples at every moment in history," he added.

"Thousands of nuclear arms hang over the head of humanity. The religious leaders' fundamental aim was doubtless to prevent the most brutal of wars that could break out," he said, referring to Francis and Kirill.

The two promised on Friday to work together for peace, as they held the first meeting between the leaders of their two branches of the church since the Great Schism of 1054.

At a mass in Havana on Sunday, Kirill said he had "met in an open, fraternal and loving atmosphere" with Francis.

Cuba's hosting of the meeting reflected the communist-ruled island's growing profile in international affairs since it restored diplomatic ties with the United States last year after decades of hostility.

Fidel Castro, 89, handed over control of Cuba's leadership due to health problems in 2006 to his brother Raul, 84, who formally became president in 2008.

The patriarch met with Fidel Castro during his visit to Cuba and they discussed subjects such as poverty and peace, the government said in a statement.

Kirill left Cuba on Sunday and traveled to Paraguay, where he held a mass on Monday in the capital Asuncion. He paid tribute to Russian immigrants who fled to Paraguay after the 1917 Russian revolution.