05/03/2022, 13.38
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Pope says he is willing to go to Moscow to stop the war, but Putin is not answering

In an interview with Italian newspaper Il Corriere della Sera, Francis reveals some details of the Vatican’s mediation efforts to end the conflict in Ukraine. He told Kirill: “Brother, we are not state clerics; we cannot use the language of politics;” instead, we must use “that of Jesus.” Thus, “we must seek ways of peace”.

Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Pope Francis granted an interview to the Italian newspaper Il Corriere della Sera, which was published today. In it, he provides some details about his attempts in recent weeks to stop the war in Ukraine.

“I was willing to go to Moscow to meet Putin,” he says, “but I fear that he cannot or does not want to have this meeting right now. So much brutality, how can you not stop it?”

In light of this, Francis cannot hide his pessimism about the situation: "For peace, there is not enough will; the war is terrible and we must shout it out.”

“The first day of the war, I called Ukrainian President Zelensky on the phone. On the other hand, I didn’t call Putin. We spoke in December for my birthday but this time no, I didn’t call.

"I wanted to make a meaningful gesture for the whole world to see; for this reason, I went to the Russian ambassador. I asked them to explain, I said ‘please stop’.

“Then I asked Cardinal Parolin, after 20 days of war, to send Putin the message that I was willing to go to Moscow. Of course, it was necessary for the Kremlin leader to show some flexibility. We have not yet received an answer but we are still insisting. So much brutality! How can one not want to stop it? Twenty-five years ago, we experienced the same thing in Rwanda.”

Speaking about the causes of the war, he wonders whether "NATO’s barking at Russia’s door" did not “facilitate” the Kremlin’s wrath.

Still, he notes that “It is impossible to think that a free state can wage war on another free state. In Ukraine, someone else caused the conflict. The only thing that is blamed on the Ukrainians is that they reacted in the Donbass, but we are talking about ten years ago. That argument is old.”

On the question of whether it is right or not to supply weapons today to Ukraine, he said: “I can’t answer, I’m too far away. What is clear is that weapons are being tested in that land.

“The Russians now know that tanks are of little use and are thinking of other things. Wars are fought for this: to test the weapons we have manufactured. This was the case in the Spanish Civil War before the Second World War. The arms trade is a scandal, few oppose it.”

In the interview, the pontiff also talked about his relations with the Orthodox patriarch of Moscow, Kirill.

“I spoke with him for 40 minutes via zoom. The first 20, with a card in hand, he read me all the justifications for the war. I listened and told him: I don’t understand any of this.

“Brother, we are not state clerics; we cannot use the language of politics;” instead, we must use “that of Jesus. We are shepherds of the same holy people of God. For this reason, we must seek ways of peace, to put an end to weapons firing.

“The patriarch can not turn himself into Putin’s altar boy. I had a meeting scheduled with him in Jerusalem on 14 June. It would be our second tête-à-tête; nothing to do with the war. But now he too agrees: let’s wait; it (the meeting) could send an ambiguous signal.”

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