Pope Francis meets Russian Orthodox Metropolitan Hilarion
By Lisa Zengarini
Before the General Audience on Wednesday morning, at 7:50 am, Pope Francis met the Metropolitan of Volokolamsk, His Eminence Hilarion Alfeyev, in the study of the Paul VI Hall.
Fraternity and common concerns
The Director of the Holy See Press Office, Matteo Bruni, reported that during the fraternal conversation, they discussed issues of common concern for which the two Churches are committed to seeking concrete human and spiritual responses.
The Holy Father thanked Metropolitan Hilarion for his 85th birthday greetings expressed on behalf of Patriarch Kirill. For his part, Pope Francis expressed his affection and closeness to the Russian Church and to its Patriarch, who recently celebrated his 75th birthday, recalling with gratitude the fraternal conversation they had in Havana in 2016.
After the meeting, the Pope and the Metropolitan exchanged gifts. Metropolitan Hilarion greeted Pope Francis with an icon of the Madonna "of the Sign” and the Holy Father gave a mosaic depicting the Madonna "Synkatabasis of God", in addition to volumes containing papal documents, copies of his Peace Day Message 2022 and of the Abu Dhabi Document on Human Fraternity.
The meeting ended around 8:50 am.
Pope Francis has met Metropolitan Hilarion a number of times during his pontificate, starting from 20 March 2013, the day after his enthronement.
The latest meeting took place in October this year, on the occasion of the 35th international peace meeting organized in Rome by the Community of Sant’Egidio on the theme “Peoples as Brothers, Future Earth – Religions and cultures” which the Orthodox Metropolitan attended. On the occasion he greeted the Pope with the Russian edition of the book “Prayer: The Breath of New Life”.
The volume, published by the Vatican publishing house LEV in 2019, contains a collection of the Pope’s most significant words on prayer, specifically of the Lord’s Prayer, and is prefaced by Patriarch Kirill.