Putin and the Pope

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“VATICAN CITY –  The Vatican says Pope Francis will hold talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Vatican City on Nov. 25.

Details are still being worked out, but the Vatican press office said Thursday the private audience would likely take place that afternoon.”

This is a good thing that this happens. The leader of the largest single socialist “democracy” meeting with the leader of the largest single religion is an event that doesn’t come across all that often, but with all the issues ongoing in the world, ie, Syria, Egypt, Iran and other hot spots around the world, it makes eminent sense.

There are other issues which can be resolved regarding true religious freedom between the Russian government and the Russian Orthodox Church, gay and lesbian rights, workers freedoms, and other internal Russian affairs.

Neither of Pope Francis’ immediate predecessors visited the old Soviet Union or the current Russian Federation, but Russian leaders have traveled to the Vatican, including Vladimir Putin in 2001 and 2003 during the reign of Pope John Paul II and Putin again in 2009 during the papacy of Benedict XVI. Part of the talks now will involve the healing of the centuries’ old rift between the Russian Orthodox and the Roman Catholic  Churches.

In addition, as Syria’s major ally on the UN Security Council, it is expected that Russia will work to insist that Bashar Al Assad comply with disarmament and Francis certainly will drive this point home to President Putin. Putin is a smart and shrewd politician, and the significance of the Pope’s message will not be lost on him. And, frankly, Putin does not wish to have the United States military looking over his shoulder, either.

Discussions will probably revolve around the role of the Church in a post-Castro Cuba, the safety of the Coptics in Egypt, and the safety and recovery of Pastor Saeed in Iran, Russia’s other major ally in the Muslim world. Other issues may come up and both the Pope and the Russian President need to be flexible in these talks.

The world, in general, and the United States, specifically, will be watching this meeting with great interest for signs which could have significant impacts on near-future events. The Pope, while in his late 70s, is much younger in mind than the last two Pontiffs. He certainly is in better physical shape, as well.

He just might come across to Mr Putin as a man to be reckoned with, not to be taken lightly in these negotiations. He certainly appears to have the stamina to be around a long time. He seems to have the wherewithal to stand up to the adversity these discussions can sometimes have on people younger than him.

President Putin should take heed as the world watches and waits for a crack in his armor. Pope Francis certainly has the ways, means and faith to lay him out and take advantage of any shortcoming Putin displays.

We will all bear witness.

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