August 8, 2022

ROME – Pope Francis met Friday morning with the second-in-command of the Moscow Orthodox Patriarchate, the Vatican reported.

His Grace Metropolitan Anthony de Volokolamsk, Head of the Department of Foreign Affairs of the Moscow Patriarchate, is considered the second most powerful leader of the Russian Orthodox Church after Patriarch Kirill, who was a staunch supporter of Vladimir Putin’s attack on Ukraine.

Pope Francis is expected to meet Patriarch Kirill next month at a summit of religious leaders in Kazakhstan. Earlier this week, the Vatican released the Pope a program For his visit to the country from September 13 to 15, which focuses on his attendance at the Seventh Conference of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions in the capital, Nur-Sultan.

In this Friday, February 12, 2016, file photo, Pope Francis, left, arrives at the embrace of Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill after signing a joint declaration at Jose Marti International Airport in Havana, Cuba. The Vatican confirmed Monday that Pope Francis will travel next month to Kazakhstan, where he may meet Patriarch Kirill, the leader of the Russian Orthodox Church who justified Moscow’s war in Ukraine. (Gregorio Borgia, Pool/AP)

The Vatican did not reveal the content of Friday’s conversation between Pope Francis and Metropolitan Antony, but it did include the meeting in its framework. existing From the official audience of the Pope for today.

Metropolitan Anthony replaced Metropolitan Hilarion in June as head of the Department of Foreign Affairs of the Moscow Patriarchate and Visit The Vatican for the first time on Friday.

Friday’s meeting follows a 40-minute video chat between Pope Francis and Orthodox Patriarch Kirill, which took place on March 16.

Shortly after that conversation, Francis told Italian media that Patriarch Kirill was harming the situation in Ukraine rather than helping it by supporting Putin’s war.

“I spoke to Kirill for 40 minutes via rounding,” the Pope said. “He spent his first twenties reading to me all the justifications for war from a card in his hand.”

“I listened to him and said to him: I do not understand anything about this. Brother, we are not clergy in the state, we cannot use the language of politics, but the language of Jesus ”, recounted the Pope. “We are the shepherds of the same holy people of God. For this we must look for ways of peace, to put an end to the firing of weapons.”

“The patriarch cannot turn himself into Putin’s altar boy,” Francis continued, verbally slapping the patriarch’s apparent complicity with the Russian president.

The Pope went on to say that he and Kirill had a meeting scheduled in Jerusalem on June 14, but canceled it because it could send a “vague signal.”

Later, on April 25, Pope Francis sent a letter of good wishes to Kirill on the occasion of Easter for the Catholic and Orthodox Church that follows the Julian calendar.

“May the Holy Spirit, change our hearts and make us true peacemakers, especially for war-torn Ukraine,” the Pope wrote, while “we feel the weight of the suffering of our human family, crumbled by violence, war and so much injustice.”

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