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ROME — Pope Francis met with the No. 2 figure in the Moscow Orthodox Patriarchate on Friday morning, according to the Vatican.

His Excellency Metropolitan Anthony Di Volokolamsk, head of the External Affairs Department of the Moscow Patriarchate, is the second-largest leader of the Russian Orthodox Church, after Patriarch Kirill, who has been responsible for Vladimir Putin’s attacks on Ukraine staunch supporter of .

Pope Francis is expected to meet Patriarch Kirill at a summit of religious leaders in Kazakhstan next month.Earlier this week, the Vatican released the Pope’s program His visit to the country from 13 to 15 September centred on his attendance at the Seventh Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions in the capital Nur-Sultan.

File photo Pope Francis, left, reaches out and hugs Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill after signing a joint declaration at Jose Martí International Airport in Havana, Cuba, Friday, Feb. 12, 2016. Pope Francis will travel to Kazakhstan next month, where he can meet Patriarch Kirill, the leader of the Russian Orthodox Church, who has defended Moscow’s war in Ukraine, the Vatican confirmed on Monday. (Gregorio Borgia, Pool/AP)

The Vatican did not reveal the content of Friday’s conversation between Pope Francis and Metropolitan Anthony, but listed the meeting list The Pope’s official audience of the day.

In June, Metropolitan Antonij succeeded Metropolitan Hilarion as President of the Ministry of External Affairs of the Patriarchate of Moscow, visited First trip to the Vatican on Friday.

Friday’s meeting follows a 40-minute video conversation between Pope Francis and Orthodox Patriarch Kirill on March 16.

Shortly after that conversation, Francis told Italian media that Patriarch Kirill was hurting rather than helping the situation in Ukraine by supporting Putin’s war.

“I spoke with Kirill on Zoom for 40 minutes,” the Pope said. “He spent the first twenty years reading me all the reasons for the war from the notecard in his hand.”

“I listened and told him: I know nothing about it. Brother, we are not state clergy, we cannot use the language of politics, but the language of Jesus,” the Pope recalled. “We are the shepherds of God’s holy people. To do this, we must find a peaceful way and stop firing.”

“The patriarch cannot turn himself into Putin’s altar boy,” Francis continued, to the patriarch’s apparent complicity with the Russian president.

The Pope went on to say that he and Kirill were scheduled to meet in Jerusalem on June 14, but they called it off because it could send “ambiguous signals.”

Later, on April 25, Pope Francis sent Kirill a letter of good wishes on the occasion of Easter in Catholic and Orthodox churches that follow the Julian calendar.

“May the Holy Spirit change our hearts and make us true peacemakers, especially for war-torn Ukraine,” the Pope wrote, while “we feel all the suffering of our human family, devastated by violence, war and many injustices.”

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