Pope hoping to visit Moscow, Kyiv to ‘serve the cause of peace’

EuroActiv Politico News

Pope Francis wants to go to Moscow and Kyiv to try and end Russia’s war on Ukraine.

In an interview with Reuters published on Monday, the pontiff said there has been contact between Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov about a possible trip to Moscow.

“We exchanged messages about this because I thought that if the Russian president gave me a small window to serve the cause of peace” then he would go to Moscow to talk to Putin, the pope said.

“It is possible, after I come back from Canada [at the end of July], that I manage to go to Ukraine,” he added.

“The first thing is to go to Russia to try to help in some way, but I would like to go to both capitals.” He did not clarify if Moscow or Kyiv had officially agreed to a papal visit.

Francis has repeatedly criticized the Russian invasion of Ukraine, but has also made some controversial remarks and refused to denounce Putin by name. As recently as mid-June, he said in an interview with an Italian Jesuit magazine that the war in Ukraine was “perhaps somehow either provoked or not prevented.”

He has also previously said he was interested in going to Russia because of the war in Ukraine, but not to Kyiv. During an interview with the Corriere della Serra in May, he said “I am not going to Kyiv for now — I first have to go to Moscow, first I have to meet Putin.”

During the interview with Reuters, the pope also denied rumors that he would resign soon, as well as reports that he has cancer.