ROME (AP) — Plans are progressing for a possible meeting next year between Pope Francis and the leader of the Russian Orthodox Church following their historic en- counter in Havana in 2016, a top Russian Orthodox official said Wednesday.
Metropolitan Hilarion, foreign relations chief of the Russian Orthodox Church, met for about an hour with Francis on Wednesday morning at the Vatican.
“We had a chance to discuss specific dates and venues today, but they are yet to be specified and agreed so we can’t announce the date and place yet,” Hilarion was quoted as saying by the Russian state RIA-Novosti news agency.
He said the hope was that the meeting would take place in 2022.
Francis had already hinted at the possibility of a second meeting with Patriarch Kirill during an airborne press conference earlier this month, saying that he hoped to nail down possible dates during his scheduled meeting with Hilarion.
The Catholic Church and the Russian Orthodox Church split during the Great Schism of 1054 and have remained estranged over a host of issues, including the primacy of the pope and Russian Or- thodox accusations that the Catholic Church is poach-
ing converts in former Soviet lands.
The Feb. 12, 2016, encounter between Francis and Kirill was the first-ever meeting between the leaders of the Catholic and the Russian Orthodox Church, which is the largest in Orthodoxy. The two men met in a VIP room of Havana’s airport while Francis was en route to Mexico.
Hilarion said a papal visit to Russia wasn’t on the agenda.