The Holy See prepares to meet Russian president
Vatican City, March 1, Interfax - The Vatican expects Russian
President Vladimir Putin to meet Pope Benedict XVI in the middle of
May, the vice director of the Holy See press office Fr. Ciro
The meeting will take place within the framework the Russia's chief
executive's state visit to Italy.
It will be Mr. Putin's first visit to the Vatican after Benedict
XVI's election as primate of the Roman Catholic Church. Prior to
that, the president met the current pope's predecessor, Pope John
Paul II, twice, in June 2000 and November 2003.
The issue of possible summit between the pope and the primate of the
Russian Orthodox Church was not discussed during those meetings.
Pope John Paul II was invited to Russia by the Soviet President
Mikhail Gorbachev and the first Russian President Boris Yeltsin.
However no visit would take place due to problems in relationships
between the Roman Catholic Church and the Russian Orthodox Church.
Meanwhile the Moscow Patriarchate has never rejected the idea of a
papal visit to Russia or a meeting between the pope and Patriarch
Alexy II of Moscow and All Russia in a third country. Still Alexy II
has always stressed that such a historic occurrence should signify
essential changes in relationships between the two churches, solve
the current disputes, and not become a show event.
The main remaining problems in Orthodox-Catholic relations include
Catholic missionary activity in Russia and other CIS countries and
the conflict between Orthodox and Greek Catholics in Ukraine.