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Russian bishop meets with Pope Francis

October 19, 2018, 16:35 UTC+3 ROME

Chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate’s Department for External Church Relations, Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, had a private audience with Pope Francis

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ROME, October 19. /TASS/. Chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate’s Department for External Church Relations, Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, had a private audience with Pope Francis on Friday. His Eminence Hilarion earlier told TASS that the meeting had been planned, while the Holy See Press Office circulated the list of the pontiff’s visitors, a representative of the Russian Orthodox Church was mentioned among them.

The Vatican provided no details about the meeting. On Thursday, His Eminence Hilarion told TASS that he planned to discuss the situation involving the non-canonical churches in Ukraine and relations between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople. "Yes, I am going to talk with the pope about that," he said. "We do not expect the pope to intervene in this situation or try to sort it out. However, I will brief him on the decision made by our Holy Synod."

"I usually do not disclose the content of such conversations," added Metropolitan Hilarion, who addressed the Synod of Bishops in the Catholic Church as a "representative of the fraternal church." He also attended a concert held in Rome as part of the Russian Seasons festival, at which the Grand Choir Masters of Choral Singing performed his compositions.

The Vatican’s representatives earlier declined to comment on the Patriarchate of Constantinople’s plans to grant autocephaly to the Ukrainian Church and subsequent decisions by the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church. A well-informed diplomatic source in the Vatican said that the Holy See did not interfere in the affairs of Orthodox Christianity. He also suggested that the Holy See would not come into contact with the church, which would be recognized by [Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople] Bartholomew."

On October 11, the Holy and Sacred Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople decided to proceed with granting autocephaly to the Ukrainian Church. It revoked the 1686 decision on transferring the Kiev Metropolitanate under the jurisdiction of the Moscow Patriarchate and reinstated heads of two non-canonical churches in Ukraine, Filaret of the Kiev Patriarchate and Makariy of the Ukrainian Autocephalous Church, to their hierarchical and priestly ranks. In addition, it announced plans to bring back the Kiev Metropolitanate under the jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.

On October 15, the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church said in response to that move that full communion with the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople was no longer possible.

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