06/04/2015, 00.00
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With Putin set to meet the pope on 10 June, Moscow Patriarchate states that a meeting with Kirill is still on the agenda

by Marta Allevato
The Holy See has officially announced that the Russian president will meet Pope Francis. This would be his second visit. The Orthodox Church noted that a meeting between Kirill and the pope is still on the agenda. For its representative, “Despite some important outstanding issues, the dialogue between the Roman Catholic Church and the Russian Orthodox Church has developed actively in recent years.”

Moscow (AsiaNews) – On the day when the Vatican announced that Russian President Vladimir Putin will meet the pope on 10 June, the Russian Orthodox Church addressed again the issue of a meeting between Pope Francis and Kirill, the patriarch of Moscow.

“Discussions about the possibility of a meeting between the Patriarch and the Pope of Rome has never been dropped from the agenda, but an exact date for the visit has not been indicated because of the need to evaluate ahead of time some complex issues in the relations between the two Churches,” hieromonk Stefan (Igumnov), secretary of the Synodal Department for External Church Relations on Inter-Christian Relations at the Moscow Patriarchate, told RIA Novosti.

The Orthodox representative spoke in response to a statement made by the Archbishop of Krakow, Card Stanisław Dziwisz, who recently said that Kirill had declined to meet with Pope Francis in Krakow during World Youth Day 2016. The prelate expressed his regrets for the fact that the Orthodox primate did not want to use this "very important opportunity for ecumenical dialogue."

In his statement, Stefan reiterated the importance of Russian-Polish relations as well as the inter-Christian dialogue for the Moscow Patriarchate. "We remember,” he said, “that Patriarch Kirill visited Poland in 2012, when a historic document of reconciliation between the two Churches was signed.”

For the hieromonk, “Despite some important outstanding issues, the dialogue between the Roman Catholic Church and the Russian Orthodox Church has developed actively in recent years, especially in the sphere of shared defence of traditional moral values ​​and persecuted Christians in many parts of the world."

During his visit to Italy, which includes a stop in Milan for Expo 2015, Russian President Vladimir Putin will meet with Pope Francis for the second time. The Russian leader had already met the pontiff in November 2013 with the Syrian crisis as the focus of their discussions.

This time the two leaders are likely to focus more on the Middle East and eastern Ukraine, where fighting resumed despite a truce signed in February.

In the last 24 hours in fact, Ukrainian forces have been engaged with pro-Russian rebels, in particular in the area of ​​Maryinka, west of Donetsk. So far, 24 deaths have been reported.

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