Russia acknowledges Vatican peace initiative


Russia has reacted positively to the Pope’s Ukraine peace initiative. There are no immediate plans for a Vatican mission to Moscow, however.

The Russian Foreign Ministry’s statement about the peace initiative was Moscow’s first public acknowledgement of the pope’s overtures.

It followed the Vatican’s weekend announcement that Italian Cardinal Matteo Zuppi (pictured), has been suggested as Francis’s envoy. Zuppi is a veteran of the Catholic Church’s peace mediation initiatives.

“We acknowledge the Holy See’s sincere desire to promote the peace process,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

“At the same time, no practical steps have been taken by the Vatican side to organise the trip to Moscow.”

Zuppi said his mission aims to “help ease the tensions of the conflict” so it could contribute to “paths of peace.”

He drew a parallel to his efforts in the 1990s. Then he and the Rome-based Sant’Egidio Community helped mediate the peace talks that ended Mozambique’s civil war.

Mozambique experience

Zuppi noted the church’s initiative in Mozambique began with a hope to find “paths of peace”. It resulted in meetings that brought warring sides closer together with “bonds weaved” between factions. Ultimately a peace deal resulted.

“The effort (in Ukraine) will definitely be in that sense,” Zuppi said.

“We’ll see.”

The peace mission

Francis announced the peace mission’s existence while en route home from Hungary last month.

While in Hungary he had met with an envoy of the Russian Orthodox Church.

The Russian Orthodox Church has strongly supported the Kremlin’s war.

In the weeks since, Francis has met at the Vatican with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

Zelenskyy made clear he would not accept territorial concessions. He rejected Francis’s reference to victims on both sides of the conflict. There can be no equivalence between victim and aggressor, he said.

Zuppi noted that Francis’s hope for peace had “brought the Holy Father to tears.” His comment referred to Francis weeping before a statue of the Madonna in downtown Rome as he prayed for peace in Ukraine last December.


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