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Why only Putin could turn up late for meeting with the Pope

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Russian President visits Pope Francis, keeps Pontiff waiting for more than one hour

Meeting took place just one day after Putin was rebuked by Obama over Ukraine conflict

Russia may not be quite so isolated after all, notes CNN's Matthew Chance

Moscow CNN —  

There aren’t many world leaders prepared to keep the Pope hanging around for a meeting. Russia’s President is perhaps the only one.

Pope Francis discovered this on Wednesday as he waited, patiently, for more than an hour at the Vatican for his guest to finally arrive.

There aren’t many world leaders either who could annex one part of a neighboring country while backing a bloody rebellion in another part, and still avoid strong criticism from, arguably, the world’s most influential religious figure.

Vladimir Putin appears to fall into that narrow category too.

The issue of Ukraine was raised, we’re told, during their brief, closed-door meeting. According to a Vatican statement, “The Holy Father affirmed that it is necessary to make a sincere and great effort to forge peace,” in the war-ravaged country.

Pope Francis and Putin also agreed to “restore a climate of dialogue.”

But the exchange was not the condemnation called for by many, including members of the Greek Catholic congregation, who number millions in Ukraine, and who have expressed frustration at the Pope’s failure to criticize Russia’s role in the Ukraine conflict.

Nor are the words likely to satisfy the U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See, Kenneth Hackett, who urged the Vatican, ahead of the Putin meeting, to “say more about concerns on territorial integrity” in Ukraine.

To be fair, the Vatican is not following the same diplomatic agenda as Western governments regarding Russia.