Pope Francis arrives to meet Zambia's President Edgar Lungu during a private audience on February 5, 2016 at the Vatican. POOL / AFP / POOL / ALBERTO PIZZOLI
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Pope Francis will meet Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill in Cuba next week in a historic first meeting between the heads of the two largest Christian churches, the Vatican announced Friday.With Pope Francis having adopted an "any time, any place" approach since his 2013 election, the once-in-a-millennium sit-down has been set for Havana's Jose Marti International Airport on February 12 .Since becoming Pope, Francis has met twice with Patriarch Bartholomew, an Istanbul-based cleric who is considered the ecumenical head of the Eastern Orthodox church but does not have the same ecclesiastical clout as Russia's Kirill.The various Orthodox churches count some 260-300 million followers, with the Russian branch accounting for 165 million of them. Francis has also made a priority of improving relations between Roman Catholicism and other religions.
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