On Monday, Pope Francis stated that he is willing to travel to Moscow for his next meeting with Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill, which would be the first visit to the Russian capital by a pope.
Francis and Kirill met in Cuba in 2016, the first encounter between a pope and the leader of the Russian Orthodox Church since the great schism that separated Christianity into Eastern and Western camps in 1054.
Both sides have shown a readiness to work toward unification, but they are still far apart theologically and in terms of what role the pope would have in an unified Church.
“I am prepared to go to Moscow to talk with a brother,” Francis told reporters on his way back from a trip to Cyprus and Greece.
He said a top Russian Orthodox official was expected in Rome this week to decide the time and location of the meeting.
Francis said working out the protocols would be less important than meeting “brother to brother” with Kirill.
The Pope normally travels to countries with a joint invitation from its religious authorities as well as one from the government, meaning that Francis would most likely need an invitation from President Vladimir Putin to visit Russia.