Pope talks Ukraine with Hilarion

No plans for top-level visits to Moscow, Vatican

(ANSA) - Vatican City, September 26 - Pope Francis met on Tuesday with Russian Orthodox Metropolitan Hilarion, who came to thank the Holy Father for the recent loan of the relics of the 4th century Saint Nicholas of Myra.
    The relics, which were taken from the southern Italian city of Bari to Moscow and St Petersburg, drew huge crowds of Orthodox pilgrims during the two-month loan period.
    Metropolitan Hilarion, who has been a regular visitor to the Vatican in recent years, heads the department for external church relations.
    Speaking to Vatican Radio after the private audience, the Orthodox leader said he and the pope also discussed ongoing tensions in Ukraine, as well as joint efforts to support Christians in the Middle East. Despite a warming of relations between Moscow and Rome, he said there are no current plans for a papal visit to Russia, or for Patriarch Kirill to visit the Vatican.