The secular media has largely focused on the discussion over Syria and the unexpected icon-venerating incident at the end of the audience. However some points in the discussion have largely gone unnoticed, such as on the "protection of human life and the family".
We note that this is an official Vatican press release, and we are simply posting it for the record -- it may very well be handy for future reference in some blog posts we have in mind. Those who would like to accuse us of falling for "Putinist propaganda" for merely posting this should, for consistency's sake, also take the Vatican to task for coming out with this text in the first place.
In the afternoon of Monday 25 November 2013, the President of the Russian Federation, His Excellency Mr. Vladimir Putin, was received in audience by the Holy Father Francis. Mr. Putin subsequently went on to meet with the Secretary of State, Archbishop Pietro Parolin, who was accompanied by the Secretary for Relations with States, Archbishop Dominique Mamberti.
During the cordial discussions, satisfaction was expressed for the good existing bilateral relations, and the Parties focused on various questions of common interest, especially in relation to the life of the Catholic community in Russia, revealing the fundamental contribution of Christianity in society. In this context, mention was made of the critical situation faced by Christians in some regions of the world, as well as the defence of and promotion of values regarding the dignity of the person, and the protection of human life and the family.
Furthermore, special attention was paid to the pursuit of peace in the Middle East and the grave situation in Syria, with reference to which President Putin expressed thanks for the letter addressed to him by the Holy Father on the occasion of the G20 meeting in St. Petersburg. Emphasis was placed on the urgency of the need to bring an end to the violence and to ensure necessary humanitarian assistence for the population, as well as to promote concrete initiatives for a peaceful solution to the conflict, favouring negotiation and involving the various ethnic and religious groups, recognising their essential role in society.