Syria to Top Agenda at Meeting Between Pope, Putin

Monday, 25 Nov 2013 12:25 PM

By Joel Himelfarb

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Russian President Vladimir Putin is scheduled to meet Pope Francis behind closed doors in Rome Monday to discuss the war in Syria, the Daily Beast reported.
 
The pope sent the meeting in motion in September when he wrote a sharply worded letter to Putin criticizing G-20 leaders for neglecting Syria.
 
Urgent: Should the Pope change the Catholic Church?

The meeting, Francis said,“will surely not forget the situation in the Middle East and particularly in Syria.”

The pope added that it “is regrettable that, from the very beginning of the conflict in Syria, one-sided interests have prevailed and in fact hindered the search for a solution that would have avoided the senseless massacre now unfolding.”

Francis believes that the intervention of Moscow, a staunch ally of Syrian President Bashar Assad, is necessary in order to stop or lessen the carnage in that nation.

Some Vatican watchers have likened Francis’ meeting with Putin the meeting to the Dec. 1, 1989, bilateral talks between Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and John Paul II shortly after the Berlin Wall had fallen.

The pope and Putin are also expected to discuss the tense relations between the Russian Catholic Church (there are an estimated 700,000 Catholics in Russia) and the powerful Russian Orthodox Church, according to the Daily Beast.

The two sides have battled over allegations that the Russian Orthodox tried to lure Catholics away after the collapse of the Soviet Union, and the sides have been embroiled in a property dispute as well.

The patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church sent Francis a letter shortly after he was elected pope urging  Catholics to help fight the persecution of Christians all over the world.

The two men are also expected to discuss cooperation in the science, education, and the arts, the Voice of Russia reported.
 
Urgent: Should the Pope change the Catholic Church?

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