02/12/2020, 09.37
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Zelenskyj's requests to the Pope for Ukraine and Russia

by Vladimir Rozanskij

Profound harmony expressed between the Ukrainian president and the pontiff. The invitation to Pope Francis to visit Kiev, but also the Donbass. The appreciation of the Greek Catholics. Today is the fourth anniversary of the meeting in Havana between Francis and Kirill.

Moscow (AsiaNews) - Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyj visited Pope Francis for the first time in Rome on  February 9, asking the pontiff for help in the peaceful resolution of the conflict between Russians and Ukrainians.

Immediately after the meeting, Zelenskyj wrote on Twitter: "The Pope of Rome Francis does everything possible to achieve peace and harmony among peoples around the world. Two months after the "Normandy" format meeting in Paris, I asked him for support to secure the release of Ukrainian prisoners in Donbass, Crimea and Russia. I was very inspired by our talk on peace in Ukraine ".

The Ukrainian President then met with the Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, together with the Secretary for Relations with States, Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher. In addition to the issue of a peaceful solution to the conflict, the head of state stressed the fruitful collaboration between Ukraine and the Vatican: "Ukraine is ready to further develop cooperation with the Holy See. We are united by common values ​​and a common vision of the future, "added Zelenskyj.

During the audience, the president invited Pope Francis to visit Ukraine, and to become personally aware of the situation in Donbass. "The pontiff even called me the president of peace, this is the image that Europe has of me now, it is a great responsibility", observed Zelenskyj, saying that the Ukrainians are looking forward to a visit from the pope, and in the country he enjoys great prestige and trust. “I am convinced that the pope will come to Ukraine, and not only to the capital. I told him that to understand what happens to us in the east, we have to go east. "

The Pope and the president also agreed on a series of humanitarian initiatives to help children, and to protect the environment. "I am infinitely grateful to His Holiness for the initiative The Pope for Ukraine, which has already helped 900 thousand Ukrainians affected by the conflict in Donbass," remarked Zelenskyj.

Pope Francis gave the Ukrainian President a painting depicting Saint Martin of Tours, recalling that "Saint Martin helped the needy with the power of love; this is what I wish for your people, I want Saint Martin to protect the Ukrainian people ”.

On the eve of the meeting, the leader of the Ukrainian Greek Catholics, the major archbishop of Kiev and Galicia Svyatoslav (Shevchuk) had expressed his belief that the meeting between the pope and the president "will lead to a new development in the diplomatic field ”, underlining the need to get to the solution of problems through dialogue, at the negotiating table. The Pope himself had repeatedly referred to the need for dialogue for peace in Ukraine, also to the Synod of Greek-Catholic bishops in Rome last July, and on the occasion of the meeting in Paris in December, to which Zelenskyj himself referred .

In this spirit of constructive dialogue, the fourth anniversary of the meeting in Havana between Pope Francis and the Patriarch of Moscow Kirill (Gundjaev) takes on further importance, which occurs today February 12 and is celebrated in Rome with a meeting at the Pontifical University St. Thomas Aquinas, in Largo Angelicum.

The meeting opens with a conference on "The saints - signs and seeds of unity", chaired by Cardinal Kurt Koch and Metropolitan Ilarion (Alfeev), the "foreign ministers" of the Vatican and the Patriarchate. Prof. Aleksej Andreev, Rev. Marko Rupnik, Rev. Kirill Kaleda and Mr. Enrico Petrillo will be contributing to this. The conference will be followed by the screening of a film on the Apostle Peter, authored by Metropolitan Ilarion himself, and ends with an evening concert in the basilica of San Giovanni in Laterano, with the Synodal Choir of Moscow and Papal Sistina Chapel Choir.

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