The Russian Patriarch will not attend the event where he was supposed to meet the Pope

This was announced by a senior official of the Orthodox Church, indicating that relations continue to deteriorate due to Russia’s war in Ukraine.

Patriarch Kirill will not take part in the meeting scheduled for September 13-15, therefore any meeting with Francis is cancelled, RIA Novosti news agency quoted Metropolitan Antony of Volokolamsk, who is responsible for foreign relations in the Moscow Patriarchate.

Kirill justified the invasion of Ukraine on spiritual and ideological grounds, calling it a “metaphysical” fight against the West. He blessed Russian soldiers going into battle and supported the idea that Russians and Ukrainians are one nation.

Pope Francis confirmed last month that he will meet Kirill at the meeting in Kazakhstan, which will be the second meeting between the Pope and the Russian patriarch in history. The first took place in 2016, and the second meeting between the two, planned for June, was postponed due to the diplomatic consequences of the war.

While Francis condemned the war in Ukraine, he tried to leave the door open to dialogue with Moscow, refraining from condemning Russia, President Vladimir Putin or Cyril. His moderate approach angered Kyiv, which condemned his statement this week in which the pope lamented that innocent people in both countries were paying for the war.

On Wednesday, marking the six-month anniversary of the start of the war, Francis referred to the weekend car bombing in Moscow that killed nationalist TV commentator Darya Dugina, the daughter of right-wing Russian political theorist Alexander Dugin, who passionately supports the war.

Francis mentioned the “poor girl” killed in a car explosion in Moscow, alongside orphaned children in Ukraine and Russia, referring to the “innocents” who have fallen victim to this “madness of war”.

Ukraine’s envoy to the Holy See, Andrijus Jurash, wrote on Twitter that he was disappointed by Francis’ speech, because the pontiff seemed to identify “the aggressor and the victim, the rapist and the rapist.” He wondered how Francis could mention “an ideologue of imperialism as an innocent victim”.

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