Pope may meet Patriarch Cyril at September Kazakh meeting

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Church. The meeting with Patriarch Kirill would be significant given his justification of Russia’s war in Ukraine. Francis canceled a planned meeting with Kirill in June in Jerusalem because of the diplomatic fallout it could create.”/>
FILE – Pope Francis, left, reaches out to kiss Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill after signing a joint statement at Jose Marti International Airport in Havana, Cuba February 12, 2016. The Vatican said Tuesday, May 31 2022 that Pope Francis will travel to Kazakhstan in September for an interreligious conference, a meeting that may give him the opportunity to meet the head of the Russian Orthodox Church. The meeting with Patriarch Kirill would be significant given his justification of Russia’s war in Ukraine. Francis canceled a planned meeting with Kirill in June in Jerusalem because of the diplomatic fallout it could create.Gregorio Borgia/AP

VATICAN CITY (AP) — The Vatican announced Tuesday that Pope Francis will travel to Kazakhstan in September for an interfaith conference, a meeting that could give him the opportunity to meet the head of the Russian Orthodox Church.

Meeting Patriarch Kirill would be significant given Kirill’s justification for Russia’s war in Ukraine. Francis canceled a planned meeting with Kirill in June in Jerusalem because of the diplomatic fallout it would have created.

The Kazakh government is organizing a “Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions” on September 14-15 in the capital, Nur-Sultan. Kirill was invited and the Patriarchate of Moscow announced his presence.


The Vatican confirmed that Francis had also decided to attend in a joint statement issued Tuesday on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the Holy See and Kazakhstan.

“The pursuit of peaceful coexistence in the face of contemporary challenges is only achievable through inclusive and comprehensive dialogue,” the statement said. “Therefore, Kazakhstan welcomes Pope Francis’ decision to attend” the September congress.

Francis criticized the devastation of the war but was keen to avoid upsetting Kirill and derailing decades of ecumenical outreach to the Russian Orthodox Church.

Francis and Kirill met in Havana in 2016 in the first such encounter between a pope and a Russian patriarch in a millennium.

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