Also Pope francesco tries to contribute to one de-escalation of the Ukrainian conflict. And he does so by addressing the issue in the meantime with the religious leaders, who are also involved in supporting Vladimir Putin. Like this, Bergoglio met in Vatican the Metropolitan Antonij of Volokolamskpresident of the Department of External Affairs of the Moscow Patriarchate, the one who reports to the patriarch Kirillwho has ended up at the center of the international debate several times for his attempts to justify the Russian invasion of Ukraine from a religious point of view, so much so as to push theEuropean Union to insert it in a provisional list, from which it was then removed at the behest of theHungaryof the personalities sanctioned by Brussels for the closeness and support to Kremlin. The one with the Pontiff is the first in person meeting with a representative of Kirill since Russia invaded Ukraine, given that on March 16 there was only an online meeting between Francis and the Patriarch.
Beside Kirill there was at the time Hilarionlater replaced by Metropolitan Antonij who has been in the Vatican since yesterday where he also met the Secretary for Relations with States, Monsignor Richard Gallagher. A face-to-face meeting between the two leaders of their respective churches is scheduled for mid-September, when both will be in Kazakhstan.
Regarding today’s meeting, the Department for External Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate published a statement on its website: “On August 5, at the invitation of Pope Francis, the president of the Department for External Ecclesiastical Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate , Metropolitan Antonij of Volokolamsk, visited the Vatican, where he met the head of the Roman Catholic Church in the Apostolic Palace – we read – During the conversation, which took place in Italian, Pope Francis and Metropolitan Antonij discussed numerous topics at agenda of Orthodox-Catholic relations, also in the context of the political processes taking place in the world. At the end of the long meeting, the interlocutors exchanged gifts ”.