A meeting between Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill of Moscow, the leader of the Russian Orthodox Church, could take place in June, according to TV2000, the Italian Catholic bishop’s conference television channel.
Referring to “highly placed Vatican sources,” TV2000 stressed that preparations for a meeting between the two religious leaders to promote peace were already underway.
A meeting between the two church leaders has been on the agenda since the outbreak of the war in Ukraine with the pair speaking to each other via video link on March 16.
Patriarch Kirill openly supports the policy of Russian President Vladimir Putin and is reportedly a close ally of the Russian leader.
“Let the Lord help us unite during this difficult time for our Fatherland, including around the authorities,” Kirill has been quoted as saying at a recent sermon in Moscow, as reported by Reuters.
“May the authorities to be filled with responsibility for their people, humility and the readiness to serve them even if it costs them their life,” Kirill added.
The day after the outbreak of the war on Feb. 24, Pope Francis visited Russia’s embassy in the Holy See near the Vatican, and on Feb. 26, he spoke to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky by telephone, and again on March 22.
Both the Holy See and the Moscow Patriarchate proposed a neutral meeting place for a possible personal meeting between the two church leaders. Pope Francis stated on Sunday, on a return flight from his visit to Malta, that “we are working on a meeting with Patriarch Kirill and we believe we will be held in the Middle East.”
Initial rumors were that the meeting could take place in Lebanon. According to the latest press reports, Pope Francis will travel to Amman, Jordan on June 12, and from there on to Jerusalem on June 14.
The Catholic archbishop and the Moscow patriarch met for the first time in Havana on Feb. 12, 2016, in what was classed as a turning point in church history.