Putin to visit Pope today
Although the Moscow Orthodox Patriarchate has played down a visit today to Pope Benedict by Russian President Vladimir Putin as "only a state visit", the Holy See nuncio to Russia has suggested that the meeting indicates "ecumenical progress".
AsiaNews quotes the Russian Orthodox Patriarchates Secretary for Inter-Christian Affairs, Fr Igor Vyzhanov, as expecting the two leaders to speak of international questions as well as concerns pertaining to dialogue between civilisations and the role of moral values in Europe and the world.
However, Fr Vyzhanov cautioned that while "it's clear that there discussions will have some impact on their respective nations, but we still cannot say what (or) how".
However, the Holy See nuncio to the Russian Federation, Archbishop Antonio Mennini, told the Italian daily Avvenire that "the meeting between Benedict XVI and Putin is a significant event that cannot fail to have ecumenical repercussions".
"From this perspective it seems clear to me that the priority will be ... progress in dialogue between Catholics and Orthodox in which the Russian authorities are also interested," the nuncio said.
Russian Orthodox bishop of Vienna Austria Hilarion (Alfeeev) described the meeting to Interfax news as "an encounter between two Christians, with elevated possibilities".
Although reaffirming that it is "a state visit", Bishop Hilarion told AsiaNews that this did not exclude the possible presence of Metropolitan Kirill, on the presidential visit to Italy.
Putin-Pope, for the Moscow Patriarchate "only a state visit" (AsiaNews, 12/3/07)
LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Patriarchate of Moscow and All Russia
Russian Orthodox Church (Wikipedia)
Vatican : the Holy See
13 Mar 2007