Historic meeting: The Pope to meet the Russian Orthodox Patriarch next week

Wow. This is undoubtedly another prophecy that is coming to pass in our time.

The head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill, is to meet his Roman Catholic counterpart, Pope Francis, during a historic visit to Latin America. The ground breaking meeting is to happen in mid-February in Cuba.

The meeting between heads the two major Christian churches would be an unprecedented move to mend a millennium-long rift between the Western and Eastern branches of the religion, which started with the Great Schism of 1054.

Persecution of Christians in the modern world is the main issue for the two leaders to discuss, the Russian Orthodox Church said. Christians are among the minorities suffering at the hands of groups adhering to radical Islamist ideology in places like Iraq, Syria and Somalia.

“the time is not far off, when the Latin Bishop may have to seek again to the Constantinopolitan Imperial Autocracy for protection.”

~Exposition of Daniel, John Thomas

Brother Thomas was talking about the Catholic Pope seeking the protection of Russia in the face of a mutual challenge, and we already see evidence of this need arising. But is this meeting just an isolated incident, or does it speak of something greater at work?

Putin asks his governors to read three books

To understand the context behind this meeting, we need to wind the clock back and cast our gaze upon Putin.

Since 2012, Kremlin observers witnessed a change in Putin who discarded his pragmatist policy and replaced it with an ideological one. Over the course of the next few years and in the lead up to the annexation of Crimea, Putin’s speeches would be peppered with nationalistic references to the writings of Russian historians and philosophers.

Steven Lee Myers, the lead Moscow correspondent for the New York Times, also noted the change in his recent book “The New Tsar”;

…for the first time, he (Putin) began casting his leadership in a broader historical context. He meant to restore something much older, much richer and deeper: the idea of the Russian nation, the imperium of the “third Rome,” charting its own course, indifferent to the imposition of foreign values. It was an old Russian idea, and he found the model for it in the history books he was said to favour.

Not only was Putin’s new ideology evident through his national speeches, but early 2014, Putin distributed three special books to members of the Russia United Party and the regional governors of Russia. The books were to be ‘essential reading’, and they give us much insight into the new ideological direction of the Kremlin.

The first book was written by 19th century Russian philosopher Vladimir Solovyov and was entitled “Justification of Good”. Solovyov was unique amongst his contemporaries as he was one of the only Russian Philosophers to advocate the Hellenist idea of the unification of the Catholic church to the Russian Orthodox church – much to the disgust of the Orthodox clergy. Looking for common ground with Catholicism was anathema in the eyes of the Russian Orthodox Church and it still is today.

So why did Putin distribute Solovyov’s writings to the leaders of Russia when he knew it would irritate the Church? To find the answer to this question, we need to go to the second the book that Putin asked his colleagues to read; “Our Tasks” written by Ivan Ilyin.

Where Solevyov writes about the future role of the Church, Ilyin theorises about the future role of the state. Ilyin’s writings construct and fantasise about a new direction for Russia through the establishment of the imperium of “the Third Rome” – the re-establishment of the Roman/Byzantine Empire.

The idea of a Byzantine revival isnt new; Constantinople – the ancient capital of the Byzantine empire – is a city which features as a centrepiece in Russian fairy tales, poetry, architecture, and religion. Throughout Russian history, many have called for a return to such an empire, but there’s a problem for those Byzantine obsessed Russians; Constantinople isn’t in Russia, its in Turkey. How then can the Russian people revive the Byzantine empire if its ancient capital remains – under the control of Turkey? Perhaps this question may be answered for us if Russia chooses to invade Turkey in the next few months as the Russian-Turkish crisis unfolds.

However, put together, the writings of Solevyov and Ilyin advocate for a new Holy Russia – a Holy empire, which would be founded upon a unified Eastern (Orthodox) and Western (Catholic) Christendom. By distributing these writings, Putin is reaching into the patriotic heart of the Russian and evoking strong feelings of nostalgia as they are reminded of their history, culture, religion and heritage which are from the remnants of the Byzantine empire.

But further than that, it seems that Putin is giving substance to those ideologies and ancient Russian dreams: On one hand, the powerful Byzantine empire is once again on the verge of becoming a possibility as Putin continues to agitate Turkey. On the other hand and probably much to Krills despair and Solevyov’s delight, the unification between Eastern and Western Christendom – a necessary basis for a Holy empire – is beginning to emerge as we have found out today.

But where did this all come from? Why is Putin suddenly giving substance to an old Russian dream?

There is a number of very good reasons and we consider one of them here:

The growing threat of an extremist Muslim Caliphate calls for the unification of Western and Eastern Christendom

It should not be forgotten that it was a Muslim caliphate (the Ottoman empire) that eventually took Constantinople, and ended the Byzantine empire. The Russians have never forgotten this.

Infact, it has been suggested in Russia, that the fall of the Byzantine empire was actually a result of the lack of coordination between the Byzantines (Orthodox) and West (Catholics) in dealing with the threat of the Muslim Caliphate. Fast forward five centuries to 2016, and a new Muslim Caliphate – the Islamic State (ISIS) – is now gaining momentum in the Middle East. Russian commentators use the Byzantine narrative to suggest that Russia is under threat of making the same uncoordinated mistake unless it gets its act together and seeks to unify Western Christendom (the Roman Catholics) with the Eastern (Russian Orthodox).

Today, both the Roman Catholics and Russian Orthodox feel threatened by ISIS. The Vatican especially so, because it doesn’t have an army to defend itself or deploy to places like Syria where Christians are increasingly victimised. This is why in 2014, the Vatican called upon the United Nations to use military force against ISIS. In 2015 we saw Russia respond to that call, sending in its military and proving itself to be a formidable force in Syria.

Putin’s ideological vision for a revived Rome is becoming a reality. Today, the news that the Pope is about to meet his Russian counterpart for the first time to discuss unity in the face of an emerging caliphate reminds us that this revival is fast becoming a reality.

The Roman Iron in Daniels image of chapter 2, and in the Fourth beast of Daniel chapter 7 is emerging, and we are living to witness the fulfilment of prophecy.

Further reading: