News that Pope Francis met with Patriarch Kirill is being treated as a minor event - a religious footnote and another sign that the current pope is all about building bridges.
I see things differently.
One of the items discussed was apparently the plight of Christians in the Middle East. Once that was something that concerned the United States. No longer.
Now it is Russia that is putting boots on the ground and dictating the course of events.
Anyone who has been following Russian politics knows that Vladimir Putin has restored the ancient primacy of the Orthodox Church in Russia. He is heavily invested in the project.
Thus the Pope is playing a rather subtle and clever game here. Moscow actually cares about protecting Christians; Washington cares about protecting everyone but Christians. Clearly opening a channel to the Russians makes sense.
I've said this before, but efforts by American conservatives to peg His Holiness are futile and demonstrate considerable ignorance.
The Church has her own interests and these do not always coincide with what American conservative Catholics want to see. Open borders, for example, are fine with Rome. Why not? As I've said before, the modern state system was born out of the defeat of Catholic forces in 1648. From the perspective of the Church, nation states divide Christendom and facilitate internal conflicts among the Christian community. Maybe their time should end?
In any event, add this to the growing evidence that we are headed towards extremely interesting times. Remember, the last time the Catholic and Orthodox churches agreed to help Middle East Christians, it got very interesting indeed.