Pope Francis And Patriarch Kirill Meeting Still Possible At Future Date, Russian Orthodox Metropolitan Says


By Courtney Mares

Pope Francis met Wednesday with the head of the Russian Orthodox delegation in Kazakhstan, who said that a second papal meeting with Patriarch Kirill of Moscow is still on the table.

Metropolitan Anthony of Volokolamsk, who is in charge of foreign relations for the Russian Orthodox Church, told a pool of Vatican journalists on Sept. 14 that a second meeting between the patriarch and the pope would require significant preparation.

The metropolitan insisted that this meeting “needs to be well prepared” and should produce an appeal at the end, like what was signed by Pope Francis and Kirill in the first-ever meeting between a pope and a Russian patriarch in Havana, Cuba, in 2016.

“We are very convinced that the meeting between the pope and the patriarch is very important, so the importance of this meeting means that it must be prepared … not just a meeting while you have a coffee,” he said. 

The interreligious summit in Nur-Sultan was initially expected to serve as a meeting spot for the pope and Kirill until the patriarch backed out at the end of August.

The metropolitan noted that Pope Francis’ comment earlier this year that the Russian patriarch should not “become Putin’s altar boy” was “unexpected” and “not useful for Christian unity.” 

Pope Francis met privately with Metropolitan Anthony for 15 minutes on the sidelines of the Seventh Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions at the Palace of Independence in Nur-Sultan.

The Russian Orthodox representative said, “meeting with the pope is always very cordial.”

“The pope conveyed his greetings to Patriarch Kirill. We talked about the very large presence of the Russian Orthodox Church here in Kazakhstan,” he said.

During their conversation, Pope Francis reiterated his desire to have a second meeting with Kirill, Anthony added. 

In the pope’s opening speech for the interreligious congress, Francis underlined that God “guides us always in the way of peace, never that of war.”

“Let us commit ourselves, then, even more to insisting on the need for resolving conflicts not by the inconclusive means of power, with arms and threats, but by the only means blessed by heaven and worthy of man: encounter, dialogue, and patient negotiations, which make progress especially when they take into consideration the young and future generations,” he said.

In addition to the Russian Orthodox metropolitan, Pope Francis also met privately with Grand Imam Ahmed el-Tayeb, Lutheran Archbishop Urmas Viilma, Orthodox Patriarch Theophilos III of Jerusalem, and Israeli Rabbis David Baruch Lau and Yitzhak Yosef.


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