Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood in St Petersburg Russia July 2016 Alexey Gotovskyi CNA
Vatican City, Aug 3, 2017 CNA/EWTN News.- The Vatican Secretary of State's visit to Russia later this month comes at a crucial juncture for the country, and is packed with both political and religious significance.
He is expected to meet with President Vladimir Putin and leaders of the Russian Orthodox Church during the trip.
On a political level, the visit of Cardinal Pietro Parolin – the dates of which have yet to be announced – comes as Russia faces rising tensions with the West over Syria and Ukraine, and possible meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
Just this week the U.S. slapped Russia with more economic sanctions due to Russia's involvement in the election. The decision prompted Putin to expell 755 people from its U.S. embassy and consulates.
On a religious level, Cardinal Parolin's visit also comes at a key time, falling just a year and a half after the historic February 2016, meeting between Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill of Moscow, head of the Russian Orthodox Church.
The meeting marked the first time leaders from each Church sat down together since the Russian Orthodox Church was founded some 400 years ago.
While there might be fear and criticism regarding their engagement with Russia, “the Vatican is nevertheless willing to take this risk,” seasoned Vatican analyst Robert Moynihan told CNA.