18:21 GMT29 November 2020
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    Russian President Vladimir Putin on Saturday wished Pope Francis a happy 80th birthday, expressing the desire to meet in person and discuss contemporary problems.

    MOSCOW (Sputnik) — Pope Francis turned 80 on Saturday. The age marks a watershed when cardinals must retire from their positions in the Catholic Church. Popes have previously ignored the rule, but Pope Francis has indicated that he may retire.

    "I expect us to be able to meet once again in the near future and to discuss the modern world's problems," Putin said in an official letter published by the Kremlin.

    Putin and the pope met in 2015 in the Vatican.

    The president praised the Pontiff for overseeing a historic breakthrough in Catholic-Orthodox relations, adding that improved relations between Russia and the Vatican can also be significantly credited to the pope.

    In February, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church held historic talks with Pope Francis in Cuba’s capital, Havana, where they issued a joint declaration urging global action to stop the persecution of Christians.

    "You fruitful work on promoting high spiritual and moral values, improving inter-religious and inter-civilizational dialogue has earned you the honest respect of millions from around the world," Putin said, wishing the Catholic leader good health, prosperity and every success in his religious mission.


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