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An official of the Russian bishops’ conference said the Catholic Church’s working conditions in Russia have improved, and that he is hopeful that this would lead to better relations between church and state. “Our church’s ties with state and society here have significantly improved recently, and we hope this process will now develop further,” said the Rev. Igor Kovalevsky, the secretary-general of the Russian Catholic bishops’ conference. “A full relationship will clearly facilitate links at a time when both the Holy See and Russian Federation share common views on many international questions,” said Father Kovalevsky.

The Interfax news agency reported earlier in July that Archbishop Antonio Mennini, the Vatican’s representative in Moscow, said that talks on diplomatic relations between the Vatican and Russia had covered “a lot of ground.”