Russian Orthodox Patriarch to say mass in Antarctic

Wed Feb 17, 2016 9:39am EST
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MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill has flown to the Antarctic to say mass at a scientific research station, a trip aides said was intended to show his church has global reach, Russian media reported on Wednesday.

Kirill flew to Russia's Bellingshausen scientific station on the Island of Waterloo from Chile where he had wrapped up his tour of several Latin American nations, RIA news agency quoted his spokesman Alexander Volkov as saying.

"This is an historic event in the life of Russian Orthodoxy, a proof that the Russian Orthodox Church exercises its office on all continents. There the Patriarch will pray for the entire world," he said.

The service, to be attended by Russian and foreign polar explorers, will be held at the Holy Trinity chapel, the only Orthodox place of worship in the Antarctic, Volkov said.

Last week Kirill held an historic meeting with Roman Catholic Pope Francis in Cuba, bringing together the two churches nearly 1,000 years after the Eastern and Western branches of Christianity split apart.

The pope and the patriarch issued a global appeal for the protection of Christians under assault in the Middle East.

(Reporting by Dmitry Solovyov; Editing by Christian Lowe)

Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill visits the graves of Russian soldiers who fought in the 1932-1935 Chaco war between Paraguay and Bolivia, at the Recoleta cemetery in Asuncion, February 15, 2016.  REUTERS/Jorge Adorno