Pope Francis will attend a meeting of religious leaders in Kazakhstan in September, the Vatican said on Monday, a gathering where he has said previously he hoped to meet with the Russian Orthodox patriarch, who backs the war in Ukraine.
Francis is set to be in the capital Nur-Sultan from Sept. 13-15 to attend the VII Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions, the Vatican said.
The pope has said in several recent interviews that he hopes to meet in the Kazakh capital with patriarch Kirill, who has given his full-throated backing to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which began on Feb. 24.
Francis had planned to meet Kirill on June 14 in Jerusalem but cancelled that meeting on the advice of Vatican diplomats.
If the September meeting takes place, it would be only their second after they met in Cuba in 2016. The latter was the first such meeting between a pope and a leader of the Russian Orthodox Church since the Great Schism in 1054.
The Vatican statement announcing the trip did not mention Kirill. It was released in Russian, Italian and English. Kazakh and Russian are the country’s two official languages.