Why History Will Happen in Cuba's 'Threadbare' Airport
Plus more on pontiff's historic meeting in Havana with Russian Patriarch Kirill
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 12, 2016 8:49 AM CST
Pope Francis wears a traditional Mexican sombrero hat he received as a gift by a Mexican journalist aboard the plane during the flight from Rome to Havana on his way to a weeklong trip to Mexico on Friday.   (Alessandro Di Meo/Pool Photo via AP)

(Newser) – Pope Francis is joining up with Patriarch Kirill in Havana on Friday, a historic event that marks the first time the head of the Roman Catholic Church is meeting with the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, notes NBC News, which outlines all the background behind this "religious rendezvous." Other developments:

  • NPR delves into whether this get-together can really mend the 10-century rift between the two factions.
  • Stopping persecution against Christians is one main reason pointed out by the Catholic News Agency for the meeting. It offers three other compelling ones.

  • Read about some of the differences between the pontiff (frugal) and "skillful political player" Kirill (once wore a $30,000 watch) at ABC News.
  • Check out why some diplomats and analysts are sure Vladimir Putin had something to do with this historic meeting—and how he could benefit from it, per Reuters.
  • Why Cuba? The AP talks about how the island nation, once an "international socialist provocateur" on the world stage, is now trying to play a new, more neutral part, making it the "perfect place for negotiations."
  • As for why the specific location will be the "threadbare" Jose Marti International Airport in Havana, it's a pit stop for the pope on his way to Mexico. Catholic News Service reports the pope's original Rome departure was moved five hours earlier to facilitate the meeting.
  • Of course Donald Trump has something to say about the pope, though not about his meeting with Kirill. Instead, Trump is taking issue with Francis' planned jaunt to the Rio Grande to offer prayers for migrants, the New York Times reports. "I think that the pope is a very political person," Trump said in a Fox Business Network interview Thursday. "I think Mexico got him to do it because they want to keep the border just the way it is. They're making a fortune, and we're losing."