.- At the conclusion of the meeting this week at the Apostolic Palace between Pope Benedict XVI and Russian President Dmitrij Medvedev, the Vatican announced that full diplomatic relations between the Holy See and the Russian Federation will be established.
According to a statement from the Holy Seeâs Press Office, the meeting included "an exchange of views on the international economic and political situation in light of the encyclical, 'Caritas in Veritate'â and a discussion on "the current challenges in terms of security and peace.â
âThere was also discussion of various cultural and social issues of common interest, such as family values and the contribution of believers to Russian society. "
Following the meeting, which lasted just under 30 minutes, the Pontiff and the Russian president exchanged gifts, with the Russian leader presenting the Holy Father with a picture of St. Basil's Cathedral in Red Square and 22 volumes of the Orthodox Encyclopedia. "I wonât know how to read them," the Pope joked, to which Medvedev replied, âSomeone will help you.â
For his part, Pope Benedict XVI gave the Russian president a gold medal from his pontificate and the first copy of the Russian translation of the encyclical, âCaritas in Veritate.â
Kremlin spokesman Natalia Timakova said, "President Medvedev told Pope Benedict XVI during the meeting today that he has signed a decree on the establishment of full diplomatic relations with the Vatican. He has instructed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to lead the talks for establishing diplomatic relations and raising the status of each partyâs representatives, at the embassy level and the Apostolic Nuncio.â