(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis had a private meeting in the Vatican on Monday afternoon with the President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin. During their cordial discussion, the two leaders talked about the need for peace in Syria and the wider Middle East, as well as about the life of the Catholic community in Russia.
It’s the fourth time the Russian leader has been here to the Vatican – he met twice with Pope John Paul II in 2000 and 2003 and had an audience with Pope Benedict in 2007.
In September this year, Pope Francis also wrote directly to President Putin, as the city of St Petersburg prepared to host the G20 summit of world economic leaders. In that letter, the Pope spoke of the need for a more just global financial framework, stressing that “the world economy will only develop if it allows a dignified way of life for all human beings, from the eldest to the unborn child, not just for citizens of the G20 member states but for every inhabitant of the earth, even those in extreme social situations or in the remotest places... “
Pope Francis also focused in that letter on the need for an urgent solution to the Syrian conflict, saying: “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..”
Please find below the full text of the statement from the Holy See press office:
In the afternoon of Monday 25 November 2013, the President of the Russian Federation, His
Excellency Mr. Vladimir Putin, was received in audience by the Holy Father Francis. Mr. Putin
subsequently went on to meet with the Secretary of State, Archbishop Pietro Parolin, who was
accompanied by the Secretary for Relations with States, Archbishop Dominique Mamberti.
During the cordial discussions, satisfaction was expressed for the good existing bilateral
relations, and the Parties focused on various questions of common interest, especially in relation
to the life of the Catholic community in Russia, revealing the fundamental contribution of
Christianity in society. In this context, mention was made of the critical situation faced by
Christians in some regions of the world, as well as the defence of and promotion of values
regarding the dignity of the person, and the protection of human life and the family.
Furthermore, special attention was paid to the pursuit of peace in the Middle East and the
grave situation in Syria, with reference to which President Putin expressed thanks for the letter
addressed to him by the Holy Father on the occasion of the G20 meeting in St. Petersburg.
Emphasis was placed on the urgency of the need to bring an end to the violence and to ensure
necessary humanitarian assistence for the population, as well as to promote concrete initiatives
for a peaceful solution to the conflict, favouring negotiation and involving the various ethnic and
religious groups, recognising their essential role in society
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