| 18 April 2024, Thursday |

Papal envoy says Moscow visit focused on humanitarian issues, not peace plan

Cardinal Matteo Zuppi, the envoy of the pope, stated on Sunday that the focus of his visit to Moscow on the Ukraine crisis was humanitarian matters and that no discussions of a peace plan had taken place.

Zuppi, the leader of the Italian bishops’ conference, had been asked to lead a peace mission by Pope Francis in May to try to put an end to the conflict in Ukraine.

Zuppi met one of President Vladimir Putin’s advisers, Yuri Ushakov, and the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill, in Moscow this week. Earlier in June, he also visited Kyiv for talks with President Volodymyr Zelenskiy.

All the meetings “were important, especially in humanitarian aspects, which are what we have focused on. There is not a peace plan, not a mediation”, Zuppi told state broadcaster RAI.

“There is a big aspiration that the violence will end and that human life can be preserved, starting with the protection of the little ones”, he said, adding he would meet with Pope Francis in coming days to discuss the outcome of the meetings he had held.

Speaking to a religious delegation from the Patriarch of Constantinople on Friday, Pope Francis said there was no apparent end in sight to the war in Ukraine as his peace envoy wrapped up three days of talks in Moscow.

On the same day, a Vatican statement said the visit was “aimed at identifying humanitarian initiatives, which could open roads to peace”.

Francis has called repeatedly for an end to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which has destroyed Ukrainian villages and towns, caused the deaths of tens of thousands of people, and driven millions more from their homes.

During his Sunday blessing, Francis called on pilgrims to keep praying for peace, “even during summer time and especially for Ukrainian people”.

  • Reuters