Russian Orthodox Official to Meet Pope

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VATICAN CITY, MAY 17, 2006 ( Benedict XVI this Thursday will receive in audience an official of the Moscow Patriarchate of the Russian Orthodox Church.

The Pope will meet Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk and Kaliningrad, the president of the patriarchate's Department of External Affairs.

The meeting is taking place after a representative of the Russian Orthodox Church took part in a May 3-5 cultural meeting, organized by the patriarchate and the Pontifical Council for Culture.

Vatican sources said that the meeting between the Pope and the metropolitan is scheduled for 6 p.m.

At 7 p.m., the Orthodox representative will attend a concert performed by the choir of Moscow's Sretenskiy monastery, in the Auditorium of the Conciliation, to celebrate the new Orthodox church in Rome dedicated to St. Catherine of Alexandria.

Metropolitan Kirill will bless the church at 11 a.m. Friday. That afternoon, he will receive an award from the University of Fribourg in the Russian Embassy. That evening he will have a press conference at the embassy.