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Vladimir Putin set to visit Pope Francis on Wednesday

2015-06-09

The Pope isn't just the leader of more than 1 billion Catholics. He is also the head of Vatican City State. It's the smallest country in the world, but it definitely has political pull. 

Russia's President, Vladimir Putin  is scheduled to meet with Pope Francis on Wednesday afternoon, in what will mark their second diplomatic meeting. 

The main discussion point will probably revolve around Russia's role in Ukraine's conflict and also in Syria's brutal civil war. Russia is being highly criticized by the West. As a result, many European countries and the U.S are giving it the cold shoulder. Now Putin, will probably try to gain an ally in Pope Francis, especially with his looming visit to the U.S in September. 

The relationship between the Holy See and Russia has a complicated past. After years of tension during the Cold War, their ties improved after the fall of the Berlin Wall and after 

Soviet president, Mikhail Gorbachev, met with John Paul II in 1989. Years have passed and their relationship has improved. 

Pope Francis met with Putin back on November 25th, 2013 for roughly 35 minutes, before meeting with the Vatican's Secretary of State team. 

Now, in addition to discussing the role of Russia in Ukraine and Syria, inter-religious collaboration will surely be on the list as well. 

With the persecution of Christians in the Middle East by the Islamic State, Pope Francis is looking for support from different religious leaders, including the Orthodox. It's estimated that there are roughly 100 million Orthodox in Russia alone. 

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