Russian President Vladimir Putin received Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican Secretary of State, at presidential residence in Sochi, Russia, on Wednesday, August 23, 2017, reported the Kremlin’s Website. “The situation of Christians in the Middle East region and North Africa, the situation in Syria and in Ukraine,” were to be the order of the day.
According to the Holy See Press Office, the talks “have lasted approximately an hour” and they have been carried out “in a positive, cordial climate, of respect and mutual listening, with an open exchange of views” on both international and bilateral thematics.
The meeting was an occasion to exchange ideas “on current questions of the international agenda,” reads a press release. President Putin greeted his guest, recalling the warm welcome he received from Pope Francis at the Vatican in November 2013 and June 2015.
“We appreciate the trusting and constructive dialogue that has developed between the Holy See and Russia,” he said. “We are very happy that the dialogue continues between the two Churches. I know you had a conversation with Patriarch Kirill. We welcome this dialogue, which began directly between the Holy See and the Russian Orthodox Church.”
“The humanitarian values that the Holy See and the Russian Orthodox Church defend ,” added President Putin, “are without a doubt at the heart of relations between the two Churches, <and> at the base of relations between Russia as State and the Vatican.”
Cardinal Parolin also recalled these ecumenical relations. “In these relations between the Churches, I see a new dynamic that has appeared these last years and these last months. I hope that all the participants will continue in the same direction, so that our interaction will be even vaster and closer,” he said.
The Vatican adds that the Secretary of State has given to President Putin a bronze representation of an olive tree stick, which is a “symbol of peace”. The Russian President has offered a series of collection coins dedicated to Sochi Olympic Games in 2014.
Cardinal Parolin has returned to Moscow at the end of this third day in Russia. Tomorrow morning, August 24, he will celebrate a private mass in the Nunziatura before flying back to Rome.
With Anne Kurian
Translation by Virginia Forrester
& with A.B.