Rome – since the beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Pope Francis Present the idea you want Take a trip to Kyiv to try to broker a ceasefire. But now he says he’d rather go to Moscow to try and talk some common sense Russian President Vladimir Putinwho ostensibly did not condemn him in the war that has been going on for nearly three months and did so only slightly in a lengthy interview with an Italian newspaper.
“I feel that before going to Kyiv, I should go to Moscow,” he said. Corriere della Sera In an interview on Tuesday. But the meeting will not be exactly to condemn Putin, based on what he told the newspaper. The real “scandal” of Putin’s war, he said, was that “NATO is barking at Russia’s doors,” which he said has prompted the Kremlin to “react badly and unleash the conflict.”
It doesn’t matter that the 85-year-old is unable to walk after rupturing his knee ligaments (which he says will soon have surgery), or that Putin won’t even answer his calls. Francis reiterated comments he made in general audiences and in other interviews that the war was nothing more than an enormous opportunity for the “arms trade” and that it was still going on due to the constant transfer of arms to Ukraine. He twice spoke on the phone to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, but mostly to urge him not to answer. He also went to the Russian Embassy in the Holy See days after the invasion began to “record his concerns” about what was happening.
“I don’t know how to answer – I am very far away – the question of whether it is right to supply the Ukrainians,” he told the newspaper. The obvious thing is that the weapons are being tested there. The Russians now know that tanks are of little use and are thinking of other things. This is why wars are waged: to test the weapons we have produced. Few people are fighting this trade, but more needs to be done.”
Whether Italian journalists didn’t ask—or didn’t answer—there was no mention of what would happen if the Ukrainians didn’t fight back so fiercely, whether that meant a complete annexation of the entire country, millions of deaths, or the empowerment of an already power-hungry Putin.
Francis veered toward conspiracy theory in which he blamed the international community for instigating the war. He said, “You cannot think that a free country could wage war on another free country.” In Ukraine, others seem to have caused the conflict. I am pessimistic but we must do everything in our power to stop the war.” The Pope then said that on an official visit to Rome by Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, he was told “the Russians have a plan, that everything will end on May 9” without giving any further explanation. May 9 is the day Russia celebrates its liberation and the end of World War II.
The only person Francis won’t meet is Patriarch Kirill, head of the Russian Orthodox Church, who the Pope fears will become “Putin’s altar boy.” Francis said he spoke to him by phone for 40 minutes on March 15. “And I told him, ‘I don’t quite understand this,'” he said. “Brother, we are not the clergy of the state. We cannot use the language of politics, but the language of Jesus. We are the shepherds of the same holy people of God.”
He said that 40 days ago he asked his foreign minister to start the process of organizing a visit to Moscow instead of Ukraine, but Putin did not respond. “I am not going to Kyiv at the moment,” he said. “I feel that I should not go. First I should go to Moscow. I should meet Putin first. But I am also a priest, so what should I do? I do what I can. If only Putin opened the door.”
News of a possible trip to Moscow has put Vatican journalists traveling with the Pope on high alert, with many wondering if they would have been arrested if they reported on discussions of the war if they were in Russia.
But even the Pope acknowledges that the meeting in Moscow is a long way off. “I am afraid that Putin cannot, and does not want, to hold this meeting at this time,” he said. “But how can you not stop so much brutality?”
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