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Leading Russian Orthodox official meets with Pope Francis

May 04, 2023

At the conclusion of his May 3 general audience, Pope Francis met with Metropolitan Anthony of Volokolamsk, Vatican News and the Moscow Patriarchate reported.

The encounter took place moments after the Pope entrusted the “tormented Ukrainian population” to the Blessed Virgin Mary.

The Pontiff and Metropolitan Anthony, who has led Moscow Patriarchate’s Department for External Church Relations since June 2022, spoke “cordially for a few moments,” according to Vatican News. “Pope Francis, as he customarily does at these encounters, kissed the panagia, the medallion with an icon of the Mother of God worn by Orthodox metropolitans. The Pope then gave the metropolitan a medal of his pontificate, while Metropolitan Anthony in return gave him a panagia in a case.”

The Moscow Patriarchate reported:

Pope Francis warmly welcomed the hierarch, greeting him on the continuing Paschal days and asking him to convey his best wishes to His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia. In his turn, Metropolitan Anthony, speaking on behalf of the Primate of the Russian Orthodox Church, conveyed to the Pontiff congratulatory words on the Pascha and the tenth anniversary marking this year the Pope’s service on the See of Rome. During the talk, Pope Francis and Metropolitan Anthony dealt with a number of topical issues concerning inter-church relations. They also exchanged tokens of the meeting.

Metropolitan Anthony had met the previous day with Archbishop Claudio Gugerotti, prefect of the Dicastery for the Eastern Churches. Following his encounter with Pope Francis, he venerated the relics of St. Peter and met with Bishop Brian Farrell, Secretary of the Dicastery for Promoting Christian Unity.

“During a prolonged talk, which was held in a cordial atmosphere, they discussed a wide range of issues concerning the cooperation at present between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church,” according to the Patriarchate.

On April 29, while visiting Hungary, Pope Francis met with Metropolitan Hilarion, who was Metropolitan Anthony’s predecessor. During his in-flight press conference the following day, Pope Francis said:

We must extend our hand towards everyone, and also accept the extended hand of others. Since the war began, I have only spoken once with Patriarch Kirill, for 40 minutes on a Zoom call, and then through Anthony, who has taken Hilarion’s place now, and who comes to see me. He is a bishop who was a pastor in Rome and knows the situation well, and through him I am in contact with Kirill.


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