Russian President Dmitry Medvedev met Pope Benedict yesterday on his first official visit to the Vatican.
The aide to the Russian president, Sergei Prikhodko, said earlier on Thursday the president and the pope were expected to discuss a dialogue between the Russian Orthodox and Catholic churches, RIA Novosti reports.
In their first meeting since the establishment of full diplomatic relations between the Vatican and Russia, the two men expressed their desire to strengthen bilateral relations, the Christian Century adds.
Describing the 35-minute encounter as "cordial," the Vatican said that "the broad-ranging collaboration between the Holy See and the Russian Federation was recognised, both in the promotion of specifically human and Christian values, and in the cultural and social field."
And it concluded: "Subsequently, emphasis was given to the positive contribution inter-religious dialogue can make to society. Finally, attention turned to the international situation, with particular reference to the Middle East."
A Russian diplomatic source told RIA Novosti that a meeting between the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill, and the Pope now appears “more realistic” than it did several years ago.
Neither Pope Benedict nor his predecessor, Pope John Paul II, has visited post-communist Russia.
Pope, Russian president vow to strengthen relationship
(The Christian Century)
Medvedev pays first official visit to Vatican