On Wednesday, 3 May, Metropolitan Anthony of Volokolamsk, President of the Department for External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate, attended the Wednesday General Audience in St. Peter’s Square. At the end of the audience, he greeted Pope Francis and paused for a few moments to speak with him. The Pope presented him with a pontifical medal, while the Metropolitan presented him with a panaghia in a wooden box.
Later in the day, Metropolitan Anthony visited the Dicastery for Promoting Christian Unity, where he met with H.E. Bishop Brian Farrell, Secretary. The day before, he also met with H.E. Archbishop Claudio Gugerotti, Prefect of the Dicastery for the Eastern Churches.
During the press conference on the return flight from his apostolic trip to Hungary (April 28-30), the Holy Father was asked about his meeting with Metropolitan Hilarion in Budapest and his relations with the Russian Orthodox Church, to which he responded as follows:
"Hilarion is someone for whom I have much respect, and we have always had a good relationship. He was kind enough to come and see me, and to come to the Mass, and I also saw him here at the airport. Hilarion is an intelligent person with whom one can talk, and such relationships must be maintained, because if we talk about ecumenism, we can then say “I like this, but I don’t like that”... We must extend our hand towards everyone, and also accept the extended hand of others. Since the war began, I have only spoken once with Patriarch Kirill, for 40 minutes on a Zoom call, and then through Anthony, who has taken Hilarion’s place now, and who comes to see me. He is a bishop who was a pastor in Rome and knows the situation well, and through him I am in contact with Kirill. The meeting that we were supposed to have in Jerusalem in July or June last year was cancelled because of the war, but it will have to take place."
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