Russian Orthodox patriarch in Romania, 1st visit in decades

Patriarch Kirill of the Russian Orthodox Church Kirill has arrived in Bucharest on the first visit to Romania by a head of the Russian church since the end of communism.

NATO and European Union member Romania has cool relations with Russia, but the countries share cultural and religious ties through their respective Orthodox churches.

Kirill arrived Thursday, a day ahead of a service celebrating ten years since Patriarch Daniel was elected head of the Romanian Orthodox church. Kirill and Daniel will lead Friday's service, joined by senior Orthodox bishops from Albania, the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

Some 87 percent of Romania's 19 million are Orthodox. The collapse of communism in 1989 paved the way for more religious freedoms, and the church quickly became more popular.