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Pope Francis to receive Russian President Vladimir Putin

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
November 7th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

In a bid to improve ties with the Russian Orthodox Church, Pope Francis will receive Russian President Vladimir Putin  on November 25. Putin has previously met the pope's predecessor Benedict XVI, as well as late pope John Paul II. There is optimism that the upcoming meeting with Pope Francis will be a historic one. 

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - According to the Vatican, Pope Francis will speak with Putin in Vatican City  in a private audience that afternoon.

The two men would likely discuss international efforts to end the suffering and warfare in Syria. Francis has been monitoring the civil war there, and Russia has held a prominent role in trying to resolve the fears over Syria's chemical weapons arsenal. 

The Russian Orthodox Church has accused Catholics of poaching converts in Russia following the demise of Soviet Communism. There have also been disputes over church property. Adding to the strained relations is the fact that an official visit to Russia eluded the globe-trotting John Paul II during his long papacy.

Putin's predecessor Dmitry Medvedev, who is now the prime minister, met Benedict XVI in 2011.

During another visit by Mr Medvedev in 2009, the two states re-established full diplomatic ties which had been severed during Soviet times.

In related news, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church has presented President Putin with an award for his policies intended to make Russia a leading world power.

The Patriarch of Moscow said the prize was to honor Putin's efforts to turn Russia into "a powerful and strong country that has self-respect and is respected by others".

The award was established earlier this year by the World Russian People's Council, an organization linked to the Church.

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