VATICAN CITY (AP) – Pope Francis will meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin next month. The meeting comes a day before Catholic leaders from Ukraine meet at the Vatican to discuss the fallout from the schism between the Russian and Ukrainian Orthodox Churches.
The Vatican confirmed the July 4 audience Thursday. It will be the third time Francis and Putin have met.
Last month, the Vatican announced that Francis had invited the leadership of Ukraine’s Greek Catholic Church, a minority church loyal to the pope, for meetings July 5-6. The aim, it said, was to lend support “in the delicate situation in which Ukraine finds itself.”
Last year, the Orthodox Church of Ukraine formally split from the Russian Orthodox Church in a schism recognized by the spiritual leader of the world’s Orthodox Christians.