Will also meet with the leader of the Russian Orthodox Church
The Vatican today released the official program of Cardinal Pietro Parolin’s visit to Russia next week.
The pope’s secretary of state will meet with Vladimir Putin during his Aug. 21-24 visit, as well as with the leader of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill.
The senior prelate will also take the opportunity to express his “spiritual closeness” with the country’s Catholics. They represent 1.5% of Russia’s population.
Cardinal Parolin will have a meeting with the Catholic Bishops of Russia on August 21, followed by a mass at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Moscow, and a friendly moment with representatives of the clergy and the laity. An interview is scheduled on the same day with Metropolitan Hilarion, head of the Department of External Relations of the Orthodox Patriarchate of Moscow.
The next day, August 22, the cardinal will dedicate the morning to working with Sergey Lavrov, Russia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs. A visit with Orthodox Patriarch Kirill of Moscow has been announced for the afternoon.
Lastly, the culmination of the voyage will be a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin on August 23, in Sochi, a seaside resort on the north shore of the Black Sea. This will be the second time the two men have met since Pope Francis’ election in 2013.
Among the Holy See’s areas of concern during these various visits, in addition to bilateral issues, the Press Office release highlights the international situation and “in particular the search for peaceful solutions to current conflicts” – Syria, Libya, Ukraine – with “paramount” attention to humanitarian problems.