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Pope Francis has revealed that he told the Kremlin in March that he was “willing to go to Moscow” to discuss the war in Ukraine with Russian President Vladimir Putin – but the Vatican has “not yet received a response,” according to an interview published Tuesday.
Reuters, citing Italy’s Corriere Della Sera newspaper, reported Francis as saying that he first asked the Vatican’s top diplomat to deliver a message to Russia about three weeks into the war, which began on Feb. 24.
The pope, according to Reuters, says he told Putin’s staff “that I was willing to go to Moscow.”
Pope Francis waves to faithful from his studio window overlooking St. Peter’s Square to recite the Regina Coeli prayer at the Vatican on Sunday, May 1. (AP/Gregorio Borgia)
“Certainly, it was necessary for the Kremlin leader to allow an opening,” Francis reportedly said. “We have not yet received a response and we are still insisting”.
“I fear that Putin cannot, and does not, want to have this meeting at this time. But how can you not stop so much brutality?” Francis told the newspaper, according to Reuters.
Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks Wednesday, April 27 in St. Petersburg, Russia. (Alexander Demyanchuk, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)
Francis also said in the report that he had a 40-minute talk by video with Patriarch Kirill of the Russian Orthodox Church on March 16 – half of which he says Kirill spent reading from a sheet of paper “with all the justifications for the war”.
FILE – Russian President Vladimir Putin congratulates Russian Orthodox Church Patriarch Kirill on the 13th anniversary of his enthronement in Moscow, Russia, on Feb. 1. (Alexei Nikolsky, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)
“We [the pope and Kirill] are pastors of the same people of God. That is why we have to seek paths of peace, to cease the fire of weapons,” Francis reportedly told the newspaper. “The patriarch cannot become Putin’s altar boy.”