What Are Pope Francis and Vladimir Putin Up To?
Russian President Vladimir Putin meets with Pope Francis at the Vatican on July 4, 2019. ALEXEY DRUZHININ/AFP VIA GETTY IMAGES
Will a crisis occur over Ukraine?
BY MIHAILO S. ZEKIC • DECEMBER 28, 2021
Russian President Vladimir Putin has been making headlines for days now. He has supported his proxy in Belarus sending Middle Eastern migrants into the European Union. He’s been blackmailing Europe with skyrocketing energy prices. He’s threatening to restart war in Bosnia-Herzegovina. He’s even demanded a new iron curtain.
Putin is on a lot of people’s minds. But what is on Putin’s mind?
On December 17, it was wishing the pope a happy birthday.
Putin sent a telegram to congratulate Pope Francis for reaching 85 years of age. “It is hard to overestimate your personal contribution to the development of relations between the Russian Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches, and to the strengthening of the Russian-Vatican ties,” the telegram read.
Putin then made an interesting proposal of sorts. “I am certain that, with our joint efforts, we will be able to do a lot to protect the rights and interests of the Christians and to ensure the multi-confessional [or interfaith] dialogue.”
Francis, as leader of the Catholic Church, rules the largest Christian denomination. Russia has the largest population of Eastern Orthodox Christians, and by some counts the second-largest Christian denomination.
The Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church normally don’t get along. Since their split in 1054, they’ve found every excuse imaginable to squabble. This includes everything from how to properly cross oneself to which day to celebrate Christmas to Mary’s official title.
Yet the Russian Orthodox Church is friendlier to the pope than to other Orthodox churches.
The patriarch of Constantinople, the ceremonial head of the Orthodox Church, recognized the Orthodox Church of Ukraine as an independent church in 2018. Ukraine is traditionally under the Russian Orthodox Church’s jurisdiction. Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill then severed ties with the patriarch of Constantinople. The Russian government issued a statement that Putin was “extremely concerned” over Constantinople’s decision and promised Moscow would “defend the interest of [Ukrainian] Orthodox believers.” Eventually, the Russian Orthodox Church cut ties with the Church of Greece, the Church of Cyprus and the patriarch of Alexandria for recognizing the Ukrainian church.
Kirill has also accused Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople of trying to divide the Greek and Slavic Orthodox worlds. Kirill called Bartholomew’s actions “a crime” worthy of “divine retribution.” Kirill is apparently closer to the pope than he is to his fellow patriarch. Francis and Kirill met in 2016, the first time the leaders of the two religions had met since the 1054 split.
Francis and Kirill are preparing for another meeting. Earlier in the month, Francis said that “a meeting with Patriarch Kirill is not far on the horizon.” He said he would even go to Moscow to visit him “brother to brother.”
It’s important to realize that the Russian Orthodox Church is, in certain ways, an outgrowth of the Russian government. Kirill is rumored to be a former kgb agent (as was his predecessor, Alexei ii). Putin openly endorses the revival of Orthodox Christianity in Russia after decades of repression under the Soviets. Through its Orthodox Church, Russia—both under Putin and the czars of old—claimed leadership over the entire Orthodox world. So, for the pope, good relations with the Russian Orthodox Church means good relations with the Russian state.
Francis has already met with Putin three times. By comparison, he has met United States President Barack Obama twice and Queen Elizabeth ii only once. If Francis goes to Moscow to meet Kirill, he would likely take the time to visit Putin again as well.
Pope Francis has good relations with both Putin and Kirill. But how close is he to Ukraine?
Amid the recent Ukraine crisis, Francis spoke about his vision for peace in Ukraine on December 12. He told a crowd at Vatican City that “weapons are not the path to take.” He claimed to be praying for “dear Ukraine, for all its churches and religious communities and for all of its people, so that tensions there are resolved through a serious international dialogue and not with weapons.” He didn’t mention Russia by name.
Such a solution would delight Moscow as it would not return Ukraine to the pre-2014 status-quo (before Russia annexed Crimea and sponsored rebels in eastern Ukraine). Instead, Kiev would make concessions to the rebels and cement Putin’s influence in the region.
Putin seems intent on helping the ongoing development of these closer relations which highlights something Bible Students have been expecting and watching for some years. Bible Prophecy has revealed to us that the Catholic and Orthodox Churches will be United once more, before Christ’s Return. Further Prophecy tells us that both Europe and Russia will be united under one Religion being Catholicism both West and East. This development goes hand in hand with Britain’s Exit from the EU and Russia’s rise to the position of being a “guard’ unto the EU as per Ezekiel 38:8.
See this article here to learn about this: Catholic and Orthodox Churches to UNITE