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Russian Orthodox patriarch optimistic about working with Pope Francis

Catholic World News - December 19, 2013

Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill said that he has “great expectations” of Pope Francis, because the Pontiff’s pastoral plan “coincides with our vision.”

Patriarch Kirill made this comment as he met on December 18 with Cardinal Kurt Koch, the president of the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity, who is visiting Moscow this week. The Russian patriarch said that he was pleased to meet the Vatican official, remarking that he had “more and more opportunities to meet with Catholic prelates.” In November he had met with Cardinal Paul Poupard, Cardinal Angelo Scola, and Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, in a clear expansion of Vatican ties with the Russian Orthodox leadership.

Patriarch Kirill said that the Catholic and Orthodox churches have strong mutual concerns on key public issues, such as the quest for peace in the Middle East, the protection of Christians against persecution, and the defense of marriage and the family. Cardinal Koch agreed that “the institution of the family is now in a very deep crisis,” and suggested that Catholics and Orthodox should work together to curb abortion.

During his stay in Moscow, Cardinal Koch also spoke with Russia’s deputy foreign minister, Alexei Meshkov, about the prospects for cooperation with the Russian government. President Vladimir Putin has claimed a position for the Russian government in defense of Christianity and traditional moral principles. The Holy See worked successfully with Russia in September to avoid US military intervention in Syria.

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