Berlusconi and Putin Seek Good Relations Between Catholics and Orthodox

MOSCOW, JULY 30, 2003 ( Silvio Berlusconi, head of the Italian government, says he hopes Russian President Vladimir Putin can meet with Pope John Paul II on his forthcoming visit to Italy in early November, Interfax agency reported.

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“I hope that during your visit, you will be able to meet with John Paul II,” Berlusconi said yesterday during a joint press conference at the end of his meeting with Putin in the Kremlin.

The Russian President is scheduled to make a State visit to Rome on November 5-6, following a European Union-Russia summit.

“We both do what is possible to improve relations between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Catholic Church,” the Italian Prime Minister added.

Following the creation in February of 2002 of four Catholic dioceses in Russia, a Catholic bishop and several priests were expelled by the country’s authorities without giving any reasons.

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