13 March 2007, 11:32
Russian president and Pope of Rome to discuss world politics and inter-church contacts (updated)
Moscow, March 13, Interfax - Russian President Vladimir Putin is to meet with Pope Benedict XVI when he visits the Vatican as part of his working trip to Italy on Tuesday.
"President Putin favors the development of ties between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Catholic Church. This issue will be addressed during the Russian head of state's brief visit to the Vatican," presidential aide Sergey Prikhodko told journalists.
At the same time, Prikhodko said, ‘the discussion will not touch upon the subject of a possible meeting between the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia and the head of the Roman Catholic Church’.
"The issue of a meeting of the patriarch of Moscow and all Russia and the head of the Roman Catholic Church will not be addressed," he said.
Putin's meeting with the pontiff is expected to take place at 6:00 p.m.
Putin and Pope Benedict XVI will also discuss international issues, the religious situation in Russia, approaches of the Russian authorities and the Vatican to global policy principles and a number of other issues, Prikhodko said.
Putin met with Pope John Paul II in June 2000 and November 2003.
Bishop of Vienna and Austria Hilarion, who is also the Moscow Patriarchate's envoy to European-based international organizations, said in an earlier interview with Interfax that the Russian president's upcoming visit to the Vatican could strengthen cooperation between the Orthodox and Catholic Churches in preserving morality and spirituality.
"Russia and the Vatican have plenty of common tasks in the sphere of protecting traditional moral values. I hope that Vladimir Putin's meeting with Pope Benedict will contribute to this common cause," he said.
Bishop Hilarion said he hopes the meeting "of these two Christians, each of whom bears high responsibility for people's fates", will help improve the climate in relations between Russia and the Vatican.
He added he hopes that their discussion of all issues related to bilateral relations will take the position of the Russian Orthodox Church into consideration.
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