Kirill will not meet the Pope in Kazakhstan


Eastern Europe


Pope Francis (left) and Patriarch Kirill met in Cuba at their first and only meeting in 2016. Photo AFP, Gregorio Borgia

The Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill will not meet the Roman Catholic Pope Francis in Kazakhstan in September. That means that yet another prospect of a meeting of the two church leaders is off the table.

This is reported by the Russian press agency RIA Novosti. Earlier, it was the expectation that the Moscow Patriarch would visit the Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions on September 14-15.

The office of Kirill said that the Russian Orthodox Church would send an "official delegation" to the conference. On earlier occasions, the Patriarch visited the meeting.

Tension about Ukraine

For months, there has been speculation about whether there will be a new meeting of Kirill and Francis. They met once in Cuba in February 2016.

Although the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Churches have much in common, the two church leaders differ sharply about the Russian military operation in Ukraine. Patriarch Kirill sees this as a necessary action to protect the borders of Russia. The Pope considers the Christian justification of war a heresy. Because of this, there is much tension around a meeting between the two.

According to Kirill's spokesperson, a meeting between the two earlier this year was unilaterally suspended by the Vatican. However, the Orthodox representative for foreign relations, Metropolitan Anthony, met with the ambassador from the Vatican, Archbishop Giovanni D'Agnello, in Moscow this week, as was reported by the Moscow Patriarchate.

Pope Francis meeting with Ukrainian children at Independence Day. Photo Vatican

"Madness of war"

On Ukrainian Independence Day, Pope Francis met with a large group of Ukrainian children in Italy. These children and their families have flown for the Russian war in their country. He spoke about the "madness of war" and the "need for peace".



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