Russian President Putin to meet with Pope
Pope John Paul II will meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin nex Wednesday, to discuss "bilateral relations between Russia and the Vatican".
Catholic World News reports that Mr Putin revealed his intentions in a congratulatory message delivered on the occasion of the Pope's 25th anniversary on 16 October.
Putin indicated that he hoped to meet with the Holy Father for a discussion of "bilateral relations between Russia and the Vatican", as well as the potential for "collaboration in international affairs."
The Russian leader has, on several occasions, voiced his desire to see warmer relations between the Holy See and the Russian Orthodox Patriarchate of Moscow.
President Putin will be in Italy for a summit meeting of European Union leaders. His visit with the Pope will be their second meeting, and the fifth between John Paul II and a Russian leader.
Putin has insisted that he does not wish to become involved in disputes between the Vatican and the Russian Orthodox Church, even though his government has at times opposed the Catholic Church in its attempts to win the favour of the Russian Orthodox hierarchy.
Russian President Putin to meet with Pope (Catholic World News)
Putin attempting to arrange papal visit to Russia (23/4/03)
Moscow Archbishop disappointed by Putin silence (4/7/02)
Pope makes personal plea to Putin about bishop expelled from Russia (25/6/02)
Russia and Rome - the big chill (The Tablet 22/6/02)
31 Oct 2003