President of Russia, Vladimir Putin, met Pope Francis today July 4, 2019, at the Vatican.
Alessandro Gisotti, Director of the Press Office of the Holy See, briefed journalists present in the Press Office and issued a statement.
After meeting with Pope Francis for roughly an hour, after arriving more than 50 minutes late, the Russian President and Pontiff exchanged gifts, and Putin subsequently met with Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, and Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, Secretary for Relations with States.
“During the cordial discussions,” the Vatican statement noted, “both parties expressed their satisfaction at the development of bilateral relations, further strengthened by the protocol of understanding signed today regarding the collaboration between the “Bambino Gesù” Paediatric Hospital and the paediatric hospitals of the Russian Federation.”
They then turned their attention, it added, “to various questions of relevance to the life of the Catholic Church in Russia.”
Moreover, “the parties went on to consider the ecological question and various themes relating to current international affairs, with particular reference to Syria, Ukraine and Venezuela,” it concluded.
There was no discussion about an invitation or about a papal trip in Russia.
This marks the third meeting between the Pope and president, following those of Nov. 25, 2013, and June 10, 2015.
The latter was mainly devoted to the conflict in Ukraine and the situation in the Middle East. Both sides stressed “the importance of rebuilding a climate of dialogue and that all parties commit themselves to implement the Minsk agreements” and expressed concern about “the serious humanitarian situation” in eastern Ukraine.
In 2013, the theme of peace and the Middle East marked the meeting, although the topic of the Catholic community in Russia was also discussed, and the serious situation in Syria, on which President Putin expressed his gratitude for the letter that the Holy Father addressed him on the occasion of the G20 in St. Petersburg.
On August 23, 2017 , the Russian president received Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Secretary of State of the Vatican, at his presidential residence in Sochi, Russia, on the Black Sea coast. The situation of Christians in the Middle East and North Africa region, the situation in Syria and Ukraine were some of the topics discussed at the meeting.
Vladimir Putin has already been to the Vatican five times: In addition to his two audiences with the Argentine Pope, he visited the small pontifical state on June 5, 2000 and in 2003, received by John Paul II; in 2007 he met Benedict XVI and spoke in German, especially about the relationship between Catholics and Orthodox.
This visit with Benedict XVI , held in March 2007, allowed relations between the Holy See and the country to intensify. Also, thanks to this meeting, a good understanding was reached between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church, the majority in Russia.
With Anne Kurian