Francis cancels meeting with Kirill. No visit to Kyiv

Pope meeting Kirill cancelled

A meeting between Pope Francis and Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill of Moscow planned for June has been cancelled out of concern it could cause “confusion”.

And there will be no papal visit to Kyiv while war rages, Pope Francis said in an interview with the Argentine daily newspaper La Nación on 21 April.

Pope Francis told reporters on 2 April that he was considering a possible visit to the Ukrainian capital.

But in his latest interview, he told La Nación: “I cannot do anything that puts higher objectives at risk, which are the end of the war, a truce or at least a humanitarian corridor.”

“What good would it do for the pope to go to Kyiv if the war were to continue the next day?” he said.

When asked about Patriarch Kirill, Pope Francis said: “I am sorry that the Vatican has had to suspend a second meeting with Patriarch Kirill, which we had scheduled for June in Jerusalem.” Their first meeting was in 2016 in Havana, the first time the Pope and the Moscow patriarch had met personally.

He explained that the Vatican’s diplomatic team understood that such a meeting “at this time could lead to much confusion”.

Personally, he said he seeks to promote fruitful interreligious dialogue because mutual understanding or agreement “is better than conflict”.

Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state, had confirmed on 7 April that Pope Francis wanted a meeting with Patriarch Kirill in a “neutral place,”  but this has been cancelled. However, the patriarch’s support for Russian President Vladimir Putin and his war on Ukraine could make a meeting inadvisable.

Meanwhile, Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, head of external relations for the Russian Orthodox Church, told reporters on 22 April that “the events of the past two months necessitated adjustments to the plans and postponement of the meeting.

“Too many problems would now arise during its preparations in terms of security, logistics, and coverage of the meeting in the public space” he said, according to Interfax. “We will wait for a better time for this event.”

The Vatican will never stop its diplomatic efforts to mediate an end to the war against Ukraine, Pope Francis said. He told La Nación that he is willing “to do everything” to end the bloodshed.


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