The head of the Department for External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate, Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, will have an audience with Pope Francis this morning, as the Metropolitan himself announced in an interview with SIR news agency and InBlu Radio. “I hope – he said on the margins of the Synod – to be able to discuss with him many of the issues relating to relations between the Roman Catholic Church and the Russian Orthodox Church and the situation we are living”. Hilarion spoke of the current Moscow–Constantinople schism that occurred in the Orthodox world following Patriarch Bartholomew’s decision to grant ecclesiastical independence — also known as autocephaly — to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, and the subsequent decision by the Moscow Patriarchate to rupture full communion with the Constantinople Patriarchate. Metropolitan Hilarion has been in Rome for two days (he is leaving today) to participate in the Synod of Bishops on Young People. “The Synod – he said – is focusing on young people which is an important topic for both the Roman Catholic Church and the Russian Orthodox Church. We have common issues and approaches as regards our mission with young generations”. The metropolitan addressed the Synod yesterday morning. “I was able to share some experiences that we are living with our young people in Russia; it is extremely interesting to hear the different views of Catholic Church representatives from all over the world. Not just the voice of the bishops, but also the voice of the young people attending the Synod who describe their situation and aspirations. I think it is a fruitful exchange”. The metropolitan spoke of a “positive atmosphere” and added: “I am impressed by the way the Catholic Church has taken to heart young generations and is discussing what to do for them, how to bring Christ to them, and, above all, how not to lose this generation”.