Russian President Vladimir Putin and Pope Francis are set to meet at the Vatican today.
The two will reportedly discuss a number of topics including developments in Syria.
The meeting is striking because it’s “a meeting of two different personalities; the self-styled Russian strong man and the famously humble Catholic pope,” says CNN’s Phil Black.
“But at the moment they have a lot more in common, particularly on the issue of Syria, where the Vatican has publicly backed Russia's position opposing any sort of outside military intervention, even in response to the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government. Russia likes that, because it gives their position much more moral authority.”
CNN’s Ben Wedeman says the focus today will be “on the plight of Christians in the Middle East, given the turmoil in places like Syria and Egypt.”
Russia, tied to the Orthodox Church and historically at odds with the Vatican, is allying itself to the Catholic Church now “because both churches see themselves as fighting what they describe as aggressive secularism across Western society, which they say is replacing traditional values,” Black explains.