MOSCOW – Russians ranging from Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev to ordinary citizens are seeing the landmark meeting of the heads of Roman Catholic and Russian Orthodox churches as having significance far beyond religious doctrine.
The meeting in Havana, Cuba, on Friday between Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill was the first between the two church's leaders. Popes have previously met with other leaders of Orthodox churches; the two churches split about a millennium ago.
Russia's is the largest of the Orthodox churches.
Medvedev, speaking Saturday at the Munich Security Conference, said the pope-patriarch meeting could encourage closer relations between Moscow and the West.
"Just yesterday we saw a bright example in the religious area of how the movement of one toward the other is beginning," he said.