Pope Francis' Guest Today: Vladimir Putin
Pontiff will try to sway Russian president on Syria
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 25, 2013 11:50 AM CST
Pope Francis meets with Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, Russia, at the Vatican, Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2013.   (AP Photo/L'Osservatore Romano, ho)
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(Newser) – Can Pope Francis melt the heart of Vladimir Putin? We're about to find out, as the popular new pontiff makes his first real foray into global politics today, hosting the Russian president at the Vatican. In a closed-door meeting, Francis intends to press Putin on what Russia can do about the situation in Syria, sources tell the Daily Beast.

Syria has been a major preoccupation for Francis, and he's made clear that he'd like to see Russia intervene. But he's also backed up Russia in its opposition to outside military intervention, Phil Black at CNN points out. The visit could also help heal the rift between the Catholic and Russian Orthodox churches. The head of the latter met with a major archbishop in Moscow last week in preparation for the visit, and emerged saying that "our historic differences should stop playing the critical role they have played in relations between our churches," the Moscow Times reports.