(AP) -- Russian President Vladimir Putin showed off his religious side
during a visit Monday to the Vatican, stopping to cross himself and kiss
an icon of the Madonna that he gave to Pope Francis. But Moscow's
improving relations with the Vatican went only so far: Putin didn't
invite Francis to visit.
The Vatican said
Monday that ecumenical relations between the Catholic and Orthodox
churches weren't really discussed during the 35-minute discussion
between Putin and Francis in the pope's private library, though Putin
brought greetings from Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill.
the discussions between Putin and the pope, and then Putin and the
Vatican's top diplomats, focused on Syria and the role of Christianity
Putin may be engaged in a dangerous ploy here, but the symbolism of the act is helpful.