Pope Francis and Russian Orthodox Patriarch begin historic talks in Cuba

Pope Francis has begun a historic first meeting with Patriarch Kirill, head of the Russian Orthodox Church, in Cuba.

The meeting is the first between a Pope and a Russian Church head since the Western and Eastern branches of Christianity split in the 11th Century.

The Russian Orthodox Church said the “persecution of Christians” in the Middle East and North Africa would be the central theme of the talks.

The two leaders are also expected to sign a joint declaration.