Pope Francis could meet with the Russian Orthodox Church’s head this month

Pope Francis is traveling to Russia later this month to attend his first-ever meeting with the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Alexei II, and his itinerary suggests that a second encounter may be…

Pope Francis could meet with the Russian Orthodox Church’s head this month

Pope Francis is traveling to Russia later this month to attend his first-ever meeting with the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Alexei II, and his itinerary suggests that a second encounter may be in the works.

Francis is scheduled to meet with the Russian patriarch on the evening of Jan. 27 at the St. Basil’s Cathedral in St. Petersburg. St. Basil’s is one of the most magnificent sites in St. Petersburg, which during the tsarist era was considered the center of the Russian Orthodox Church.

Catholicist is reporting that the Vatican is thinking about Francis’s second encounter with the Russian Orthodox Church.

The BBC reports that much of the time Francis and Alexei II have spoken since Francis became pope has been privately, a rare occasion that nonetheless highlights the current divisions between Catholics and the Russian Orthodox Church.

On Thursday, Pope Francis spoke with Alexei II by phone, and Vatican spokesman Greg Burke said he saw a need for a public conversation between the two about the “process of bringing unity” to the church, according to Catholicist.

Greg Burke, a spokesman for the Vatican, was the first to comment that Francis was not planning to shy away from the delicate issue of the churches’ differences and suggested that Francis was prepared to explain that fact publicly during his upcoming meeting with the patriarch.

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