VATICAN CITY, August 5. /TASS/. Pope Francis held a meeting with Metropolitan Anthony of Volokolamsk, Chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate’s Department for External Church Relations on Friday, the press service of the Holy See reported.
This is the first meeting with the Russian church official who has recently replaced Metropolitan Hilarion in this office who met with Pope Francis many times and their meetings were quite regular.
In June, the head of the Catholic Church said that he hoped to meet with Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia in Kazakhstan. It was suggested that a meeting between the two religious leaders that had been postponed over events in Ukraine may take place in Nur-Sultan during the upcoming Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions. Pope Francis has already confirmed his participation.
Earlier, in an interview with Reuters, the Pope said that he hoped to visit Moscow and Kiev following his apostolic journey to Canada. According to him, Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin discussed the matter with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. According to the news agency, the situation was complicated by the Pope’s stance on the Ukrainian conflict.
The Vatican did not rule out that Pope Francis may travel to Ukraine in August but noted that this will depend on his health following the Canada visit. That said, leader of the World Union of Old Believers, Leonid Sevastyanov earlier told TASS, citing a personal conversation with the head of the Catholic Church, that the Pope was not yet planning to visit Kiev since he wanted to visit Moscow first where they proposed to postpone the trip until next year.