- The Washington Times - Friday, November 8, 2013

Pope Francis is going to meet with President Vladimir Putin in hopes of bolstering relations and tamping down accusations that the Catholic Church proselytizes in Russia.

The Russian Orthodox Church has frequently slung the accusations at the Vatican, Agence France-Presse reported. The pope hopes his Nov. 25 meeting with Mr. Putin will open doors to smoother relations and continue the communications that were started with previous papacies.

Mr. Putin met with Pope Benedict XVI and with now-deceased John Paul II, AFP reported. And the president’s predecessor, meanwhile, Dmitry Medvedev — now prime minister — held a meeting with Pope Benedict XVI in 2011.

But relations between the Roman Catholic Church and Russian Orthodox Church have always been on shaky grounds. Full diplomatic ties were cut during the Soviet years, and only recently, in 2009, have been re-established.

The upcoming meeting — being regarded by the Vatican with much hope — is also historic, as it’s bringing together a pope and a patriarch of Russia, AFP said.