Rome, July 5, Interfax - Pope Francis considers Fyodor Dostoyevsky and Leo Tolstoy his favorite writers and advises priests to study their works.
The pope said this during a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in the Vatican on Wednesday. Putin spoke about it with the pope's permission at a lunch attended by representatives of Russian-Italian civil society forums.
"We are connected by deep cultural relations [...] I have to say we did address this in the conversation with the pope and he allowed me to say publicly that one of the books that are always on his table is a classic of Russian literature, Dostoyevsky and Tolstoy," Putin said.
"This shows that we have common deep spiritual roots, and that's why our events in the humanitarian sphere are so successful," he said.
Recalling the old Italian saying that "sincerity in relations is a guarantee of true of friendship," Putin said that "we [Russians] always value this quality in our Italian partners, directness, openness to dialogue and cooperation."
Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said "we should continue this path of friendship because our friendship is that fabric upon which we write the way of our further cooperation, between our companies, and between our civil societies."
Conte admitted that Italy "is in a fairly difficult situation now, especially as seen through the prism of the European Union over the tough attitude toward Russia."
"But our government remains open to the possibility of talks and the civil societies of our countries continue this dialogue with the same high enthusiasm, keeping up that spirit of dialogue and mutual love which has always characterized the relations between the two peoples," he said.