Russian President Vladimir Putin met with Pope Francis for “substantive talks” at the Vatican on July 4. The Vatican said in a statement that the sides addressed “various questions of relevance to the life of the Catholic Church in Russia.” The statement added that they also discussed “the ecological question and various themes relating to current international affairs, with particular reference to Syria, Ukraine and Venezuela.”
This was the third meeting between Putin and Francis. Previously, the met in 2013 and 2015. The 2019 meeting came a day before Catholic leaders from Ukraine gather at the Holy See to discuss the conflict there and the split of the Orthodox Church in Ukraine.
As it was expected, the situation in Ukraine was among the key topics in the agenda of the meeting. The Vatican is one of the foreign forces that seek to exploit the instability in the country, including the creation of the non-canonic Orthodox Church of Ukraine (OCU), to expand own influence and pursue own political and economic goals. According to media reports, Ukrainian representatives of the Greek Catholic Church played own role in the current crisis backing the OCU.
Despite a public backing from the Kiev government and foreign forces, the OCU appeared to be a unsuccessful project, which started to collapse almost immidiately after its creation. The Kiev Patriarchate led by Patriarch Filaret that had become the key founders of the OCU already left the newly-created ‘independent’ Ukrainian church.
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