sPope Francis is preparing to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow to call for an end to the war in Ukraine. In an interview with Milan’s Corriere della Sera newspaper published on Tuesday, the pope said that the Holy See made a similar offer to Moscow weeks ago, but he has not yet received a response. Immediately after the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24, he called Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Since then, the pope said, there have been no personal conversations with Putin.
Francis said Cardinal Pietro Parolin’s foreign minister made an offer to hold a meeting in Moscow to the Kremlin in mid-March. So far, Moscow has not opened a window for such a meeting, the pope said, adding: “I am afraid that Putin is not ready for such a meeting at the moment.” The Catholic Church in Ukraine will not travel to the Ukrainian capital. “I am not going to Kyiv at the moment. First, I must go to Moscow, first I must meet Putin.” As a priest, he must ask himself what he can do to end the war: “I will do everything I can do. If only Putin would open the door.” ..”
From the conversation with the Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill in Moscow on March 16 via a video link, Francis reports that Kirill first read to him the reason for the Russian invasion for 20 minutes from a prepared paper. “I listened to him and said to him: I did not understand any of it. My brother we are not ministers of state. We must not speak the language of politics, but the language of Christ. We are both shepherds of the same people of God. That is why we must look for ways of peace and seek a cease-fire.”
A second meeting with Kirill – after the first historic confrontation at Havana airport in February 2016 – was firmly agreed upon on June 14 in Jerusalem. This meeting should have nothing to do with the war in Ukraine. “But now Kirill agrees, too: We canceled the meeting” because it could have sent a “contradictory signal,” Francis said.