Russian President will visit Vatican

During his state visit to Italy, Russian President Vladimir Putin will visit Vatican where he will meet Pope John Paul II.

According to deputy chief of the presidential administration Sergei Prikhodko, this meeting has been planned for Wednesday, November 5. The source in the Kremlin pointed out that due to the position of the Russian Orthodox Church the visit by the Pope to Russia seems impossible.

Talking to American reporters on September 20 in his residence in Novo-Ogaryovo on the eve of his visit to the United States, Vladimir Putin spoke about the relations between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Holy See.

The President believes it would be correct if the Russian Orthodox Church and the Catholic Church overcame the differences existing between them and found a common language.

"Unfortunately the relations between Vatican and the Russian Orthodox Church cannot be called ideal," noted Vladimir Putin and added that this was connected with a number of circumstances. The Russian Orthodox Church was very much concerned about the tough actions on the part of the Catholic Church in Ukraine where the Orthodox believers were driven away from their traditional churches.

Apart from that, in the opinion of the Orthodox believers, Vatican is conducting an aggressive policy and penetrating others' territories, using its financial opportunities.

At the same time, Putin said, he has good relations with the Pope, and at the meeting with him they discussed the question of visiting Russia.

"I told him that I was ready to invite him to Russia as the head of state, but as to a comprehensive visit, I cannot do it without the consent of the Russian Orthodox Church," said Vladimir Putin.

According to Vladimir Putin, it is necessary to make efforts to normalise relations between the two Churches. "I would very much like to see this happen," added the President.

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