POPE Francis and Russian President Vladimir Putin met and discussed the Middle East and problems faced by Christians across the world, but did not touch on the strained relationship between the Vatican and the Orthodox Church.
The 35-minute meeting at the Vatican yesterday was the first between Pope Francis and Putin, who met the Pontiff's two immediate predecessors, Benedict and John Paul II. "It was quite a cordial and constructive meeting," Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi told reporters. Relations between the Catholic Church and Russia have long been uneasy because of accusations that the Vatican has tried to poach believers from the Orthodox Church, a charge it denies.
There was also no discussion of a visit to Russia by Francis.