~ by Gerard O’Connell, AMERICA
Pope Francis is deeply concerned that the war in Ukraine shows no signs of slowing and said he is ready to go to Moscow to speak with Russian President Vladimir Putin in attempt to bring it to an end. He revealed in an interview with Corriere della Sera, the leading Italian daily, that he let the Russian leader know this 20 days after the war started, but said that he has not yet received a reply from him.
In the interview, Francis recalled that “on the first day of the war I called the Ukrainian President Zelensky by phone, but I did not call Putin. I had spoken with him in December, but this time no. I did not call him.” Instead, he said, I wished to make a clear gesture that the whole world could see, and for this reason I went to the Russian ambassador. I asked him to explain to me [the reason for the war]. I told him, ‘Please stop [the war[.’ Then, after 20 days of war, I asked Cardinal Parolin to get the message to Putin that I am ready to go to Moscow.”
“Certainly, it is necessary that the leader of the Kremlin should open a window (for this to happen), but we have not yet received an answer,” Pope Francis said. “But we continue insisting, even though I fear that Putin cannot and does not wish to have this encounter at this moment. But how can one not stop such brutality?”
Asked whether it was right for Western countries to send so much weaponry to Ukraine, Francis said he “was too far away (from the war)” to respond to this question. But, he remarked, “one thing is clear they are trying out new weapons” in this conflict. Moreover, “the Russians now know that tanks are of little use and so are thinking of other things,” perhaps alluding to the supersonic missiles or nuclear weapons that the Kremlin has publicly threatened it could use.
President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine has also invited Francis to come to Kyiv, but Francis feels the moment is not right. “I feel that I should not go (now). I must first go to Moscow. I must first meet Putin,” he said. “I am a priest, what can I do? I do what I can. If Putin opens the door…”
Pope Francis described the Ukrainians as “a proud people” that “paid a heavy price” during World War II, and that today are a “martyred people, with many who have died.”