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Gorbachev wants reconciliation between Catholic and Russian Orthodox churches

Commenting on Pope John Paul II's visit to Ukraine, former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev told journalists that he hopes for reconciliation between the Catholic and Russian Orthodox Churches.

The former Communist party chief also expressed his admiration for the Pope's struggle against poverty and exploitation around the world.

When asked why the Holy Father had not yet visited Russia, Gorbachev replied: "You should ask Putin."

Although Vladimir Putin visited the Vatican last year, he chose not to invite the Pope to Russia like his predecessors, Mikhail Gorbachev and Boris Yeltsin, because of the opposition of his country's powerful Orthodox Church.