The mediating role of the Pope in the war in Ukraine

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The mediating role of the Pope in the war in Ukraine

The Pope has He mediated with Russia to obtain the release of prisoners captured by Vladimir Putin's troops in strong>Ukraine. like this Francisco himself revealed this, in an interview with the Jesuit magazine America Magazine, close to sectors of progressive Catholicism in the United States. mir) Zelenski spoke on the phone three times,” Francisco recounted. “And my job in general is to receive prisoner lists, be they civilian prisoners or military prisoners, and to send them to the Russian government,” the Argentine pontiff recounted. “The response has always been very positive“, he added, stressing that he has also worked together with “delegates from Ukraine, from the Government”.

These efforts come after a dialogue between the Vatican and Russia was already activated on February 25, just one day after the Russian president launched his invasion of Ukraine, the Pope added. The pontiff has also evaluated the possibility of traveling to the region to contribute to a possible dialogue between the two countries, as he has said.

“The second day of the war I went to the Russian embassy , an unusual gesture because a Pope never goes to an embassy. And there I told him the ambassador to tell Putin that I was willing to travel, on condition that he left me a small window to negotiate”, he explained. The chancellor (SerguĂ©i) Lavrov, with great height, sent a nice letter, in which he understood that for the moment it was not necessary”, he revealed. the decision: if I travel, I go to Moscow. and kyiv, both, not just one place.”

300 prisoners

Francis has thus confirmed a mediation that, in part, had already been carried out by the Jesuit Antonio Spadaro , one of his closest collaborators. In fact, already in September, Spadaro spread the word about it. He outlined the content of a conversation on this matter between the Pope and a group of Jesuits at the end of his trip to Kazakhstan.

At that meeting, Spadaro said , the Pope recounted the episode of a conversation with the Russian ambassador to the Holy See which Francisco called after a group of Ukrainians handed him a list with 300 prisoners. In this group of Ukrainians, “was the vice-rector of the Catholic University of Ukraine, accompanied by the president's adviser for religious affairs, an evangelical,” the statement said. Francisco, according to the account given by Spadaro. 

“We talked, we discussed. A military chief in charge also came”I was left behind the prisoner exchange, again with President Zelensky's religious adviser,” the pope added.

France's request

Although the influence is not clear This is not the first time that both sides have expressed their willingness for the Pope to play a role of mediator in an eventual negotiation to end the war in Ukraine.

In October, the French president himself, Emmanuel Macron, asked for I asked the Pope to call Putin and the patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church, Kiril, as well. as well as the US president, Joe Biden, to promote a peace process in Ukraine. A country that, however, has not ruled on the matter.

We are ready“I'm going to discuss all this (the situation in Ukraine) with the Americans, the French and with the pontiff,” replied the spokesman for the Russian presidency, Dmitri Peskov. In the direction of the search for possible solutions, it can be valued positively,” he stressed.

The precedent of 1962

If it happened, it would not be the first time when the Vatican plays a crucial rolein a negotiation involving Russia and the United States. The antecedent is from 1962, when the world was on the brink of a major conflict due to the so-called Cuban missile crisis, and Pope John XXIII helped to destroy it. It helped unblock the dialogue between the Soviet Union and the United States.

However, the road currently seems uphill. Proof of this are the words of the Russian ambassador to the Vatican, Aleksander Avdeev , who this Tuesday criticized the government. precisely the last interview with Francis, in which the Pope also denounced the “cruelty” of the Russian troops. 

“When I speak of Ukraine, I speak of a martyred people, a martyred people. If there is a martyred people, There is someone who is tormenting him,” Francisco said in his conversation with America Magazine. “I have expressed my outrage at these insinuations and I have stressed that nothing can alter the cohesion and unity of the Russian people”, Avdeev said in statements reported by the Italian press.