“I am ready to do everything to stop the war”. In an interview with the Argentinian daily newspaper La Nación, published on 21 April, Pope Francis reiterated that achieving peace in Ukraine remains one of his top priorities.
Speaking to journalist Joaquín Morales Solá, the Pope said that “there are always” efforts to arrive at peace. “The Vatican never rests. I cannot tell you the details because they would cease to be diplomatic efforts. But the attempts will never stop”.
The Pope talked about his impromptu visit to the Russian Embassy to the Holy See, on Via della Conciliazione, on 25 February. “I went alone. I didn’t want anyone to accompany me. It was a personal responsibility of mine. It was a decision I made in a sleepless night thinking about Ukraine. It is clear to those who want to see things as they are that I was signaling to the government that it could put an end to the war immediately. To be honest, I wanted to do something so that there would not be one more death in Ukraine. Not even one more. And I am willing to do everything”.
On the motivations which led to the outbreak of war, the Holy Father said that “every war is anachronistic in this world and at this level of civilization. That is why I publicly kissed the Ukrainian flag”, he explains. “It was a gesture of solidarity with their deceased, their families, and with those who were forced to emigrate”.
When asked about the possibility of a visit to Kyiv, the Pope explained: “I cannot do anything that puts higher objectives at risk, which are the end of the war, a truce or, at least, a humanitarian corridor. What good would it do for the Pope to go to Kyiv if the war continued the next day?”.
The Pope was also asked why he does not name Putin or Russia when speaking about the war.
“A Pope”, he responded, “never names a Head of State, and much less a country, which is superior to its Head of State”. Pope Francis also discussed his “very good” relationship and possible meeting with Patriarch Kirill, head of the Russian Orthodox Patriarchate of Moscow. “I am sorry that the Vatican has had to cancel a second encounter with Patriarch Kirill, which we had scheduled for June in Jerusalem. But our diplomacy maintained that a meeting between us in this moment could lead to much confusion. I have always promoted interreligious dialogue. When I was Archbishop of Buenos Aires, I brought together Christians, Jews and Muslims in a fruitful dialogue. It was one of the initiatives that I am most proud of. It is the same policy that I promote in the Vatican. As you have heard me say many times, for me, agreement is superior to conflict”.