The Russian Orthodox Church has said that Russian President Vladimir Putin's position on its relations with the Vatican is "very accurate and respectable." On the eve of his visit to Poland, the Russian president stated in an interview with Polish media that he did not intend to interfere with the relations between the Russian Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches. He also said that full-fledged relations between the two churches "did not depend" on him. The deputy head of the Department of Public Relations of the Church at the Moscow Patriarchate, high priest Vsevolod Chaplin, said that "the president's position has not changed; it has always been the same. He has expressed it on several occasions." On the Roman Pontiff's desire to visit Russia Vsevolod Chaplin said the following. "The Russian president understands that it is impossible to separate the visit of the Pope as head of state from his visit as head of the Roman Catholic Church, because the Vatican state and Roman Catholic Church are inseparable. The visit by the Pope as head of the Roman Catholic Church has to include contacts with the church." Vsevolod Chaplin highlighted that "for the Russian Orthodox Church, a highest-level contact with the Pope is possible only provided differences between the churches are reconciled." "It is not us who have generated these problems," he stressed. Vsevolod Chaplin said that the Russian Orthodox Church is expecting "the Vatican to take real steps to make sure that Orthodox believers in Ukraine can go to churches and lead normal religious lives and that Catholics' proselyte activities among Orthodox Christians are stopped." "It they really want to have brotherly relations with us, as the Pope claims, the Vatican politics towards Orthodox Christians must change in reality," Vsevolod Chaplin emphasised.
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