The synod requires some delicate diplomacy for the Vatican, which under this pontificate has made numerous efforts to strengthen relations with Russia, notably signing a joint declaration with Patriarch Kirill of Moscow during Pope Francis’ February 2016 visit to Havana.
Pope Francis welcomed Russian President Vladimir Putin to the Vatican July 4. Russia plays a major role in conflicts in Ukraine and Syria.
Authorities in Vladivostok, the largest city in far eastern Russia, are planning to erect a gigantic statue of Jesus Christ on a site once designated for a monument of Vladimir Lenin.
Catholics in Ukraine said people fear a full-scale war with Russia, after a naval confrontation prompted the imposition of martial law in Ukraine's eastern regions.