Pope warns no end in sight to Ukraine war

Ukraine war

Pope Francis said on Friday there was no apparent end in sight to the Ukraine war as his peace envoy, Cardinal Matteo Zuppi, wrapped up three days of talks in Moscow.

“The tragic reality of this war that seems to have no end, demands of everyone a common creative effort to imagine and forge paths of peace,” the pope told a delegation from the Patriarch of Constantinople.

Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Pope Francis has consistently called for an end to the hostilities, denouncing the destruction of Ukrainian communities, the loss of thousands of lives and the displacement of millions. Ukraine was also the biggest beneficiary of the papal charity Peter’s Pence in 2022.

In May, the pope appointed Zuppi as his peace envoy. The cardinal recently held talks with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy during his visit to Kyiv.

A Vatican statement said Zuppi’s consultations in Moscow included meetings with Yuri Ushakov, an adviser to President Vladimir Putin, and Patriarch Kirill of the Russian Orthodox Church.

“(The visit was) aimed at identifying humanitarian initiatives which could open roads to peace,” the statement said. It added that further steps would be taken, but gave no details.

Zuppi and Kirill discussed collaborating on a peaceful resolution to the war and the possibility of a future meeting between Pope Francis and the patriarch. Their meeting was deemed fruitful and focused primarily on promoting humanitarian initiatives.

Addressing the challenges in the relationship between Russia and the West, Kirill stressed the importance of preventing a large-scale armed conflict. He called on all parties involved to work together for peace and justice.

“I believe that in the current conditions, marked by great risks and dangers, the church can, through joined efforts, prevent the negative development of the political circumstances,” Kirill said at the meeting, according to a statement.

Papal visit to Moscow would be unprecedented

While it may be premature to expect a visit from Pope Francis to Moscow, Vatican diplomacy expert Victor Gaetan noted the pope’s desire to make an official trip to Russia, which would be unprecedented.

“The meeting between Kirill and Zuppi at this time is a symbol that the two lungs of the church, the Catholic and Orthodox are healthy and may also be a prelude to Pope Francis meeting with Kirill,” Gaetan said.

According to Gaetan, the Vatican mission is also aimed at sending a message to the international community. “I read Cardinal Zuppi’s very public trip as a lecture Pope Francis is delivering to NATO countries: No diplomacy is possible without direct personal encounter,” he said.

During Zuppi’s visit, the cardinal also met with Russian officials to discuss humanitarian issues in Ukraine, particularly the well-being of displaced minors.

The results of Zuppi’s mission will be presented to Pope Francis to determine future steps and humanitarian initiatives.


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