Effort to Bring Orthodox and Catholics Closer

( [email protected] ) Nov 06, 2003 08:42 AM EST

Nov. 5 –John Paul II and President Vladimir Putin of Russia met on this day in efforts to bring closer ties between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church. Since last year, relations between the two churches became difficult as both churches tried to establish dioceses outside of their country.

During the meeting between the two leaders, the Pope assured Putin that he prays for Russia, and thanked the president for his commitment to bring Orthodox and Catholics closer together.

The Pope led the President into the Vatican Library. Afterwards, he said in Russian, "I want to thank President Putin for everything he has done to bring the Russian Orthodox and Catholic Churches closer together, and for peace in the world."

Before the visit to the Vatican, Putin had said that he wanted to help end the dispute between the Vatican and the Orthodox Church, but that Russia would defend its faith and identity.

"I see my task not in ensuring the Pope's visit to Russia, but in helping these steps toward unity," he said. "Naturally, it would be possible only if the Churches reach an agreement."