In a statement released on Wednesday, 16 march, the Director of the Holy See Press Office, Mr Matteo Bruni, confirmed that a conversation took place in the early afternoon between Pope Francis and Orthodox Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia.
Cardinal Kurt Koch, President of the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity, and Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, Head of the External Relations Department of the Moscow Patriarchate, also attended the meeting.
The conversation focused on the war in Ukraine and on the role of Christians and their pastors in doing everything to ensure that peace prevails.
Pope Francis thanked the Patriarch for the meeting, motivated by the desire to point out, as shepherds of their people, a path to peace, to pray for the gift of peace and for a ceasefire.
The Pope said, in agreement with the Patriarch, that “the Church must not use the language of politics, but the language of Jesus”.
Pope Francis added that “we are shepherds of the same Holy People who believe in God, in the Holy Trinity, in the Holy Mother of God: that is why we must unite in the effort to aid peace, to help those who suffer, to seek ways of peace, and to stop the fire”.
Both — the Pope and the Patriarch — stressed the exceptional importance of the ongoing negotiation process, because, according to the Pope, “those who pay the price for war are the people; it is Russian soldiers and common people who are bombed and die”.
“As pastors — the Pope continued — we have the duty to be close to and help all people who are suffering from the war. There was a time, even in our Churches, when people spoke of a holy war or a just war. Today we cannot speak in this manner. A Christian awareness of the importance of peace has developed”.
Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill agreed that “the Churches are called to contribute to strengthening peace and justice”.
Pope Francis concluded the video by saying: “Wars are always unjust, since it is the People of God who pay. Our hearts cannot but weep before the children and women killed, along with all the victims of war. War is never the way. The Spirit that unites us asks us as shepherds to help the peoples who suffer from war”.