Rome Newsroom, May 3, 2023 / 06:15 am
Pope Francis greeted the chairman for external church relations of the Russian Orthodox Church after his weekly public audience on Wednesday.
The brief encounter in St. Peter’s Square with Metropolitan Anthony comes amid heightened scrutiny of diplomatic signals involving the Holy See’s desire to broker a peaceful settlement to the ongoing fighting in Ukraine.
In his press conference Sunday on his flight back to Rome from Budapest, Pope Francis told reporters that the Holy See is involved in a secret peace mission to end the conflict. Both Ukrainian and Russian officials were quick to deny that negotiations were taking place, but a close papal aide confirmed the pope’s statement in an interview with an Italian news outlet published Wednesday.
In the livestream video of the May 3 general audience, Metropolitan Anthony, 38, could be seen approaching the pope and shaking his hand. Francis kissed the bishop’s pectoral cross. The two spoke for just under one minute and exchanged small gifts.