Meeting between Pope and Kirill off the table


Southern Europe


Photo EPA, Giuseppe Lami

Pope Francis has dropped plans to meet in June with Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill. According to Vatican diplomats, such a meeting could lend itself “to much confusion”.

In an interview with the Argentinian daily La Nacion, the Pope said that the relationship between the Vatican and the Orthodox Patriarchate is “very good”. He said that he has always promoted interreligious dialogue. “For me, the agreement is superior to the conflict”, the Pope said.

Although a meeting is off the table, the Pope assured that diplomatic talks remain. “The Vatican never rests. I cannot tell you the details because they would cease to be diplomatic efforts. But the attempts will never cease.”

The German Catholic daily Die Tagespost writes that the Russian side had already begun preparations for this top meeting between the head of the Roman Catholic Church and the leader of the Russian Orthodox Church. In recent weeks, there was talk that such a meeting could take place in Jerusalem. However, the video conversation between Kirill, accompanied by Metropolitan Hilarion, and Pope Francis, along with Cardinal Kurt Koch, in mid-March, already taught the Vatican that the Russian Patriarch, who is a close confidant of Vladimir Putin, and fuelled the war of aggression against Ukraine, likes to instrumentalize such encounters.

On the same day, Die Tagespost writes, Kirill spoke via video with the Anglican Primate, Archbishop Justin Welby, and then announced that he had found great commonalities with both Church leaders - Pope and Primate - in assessing the events in Ukraine. That was a total twist, writes the German daily. “Pope Francis had asked Kirill to do everything he could to end the war as shepherd of his faithful.”


Speaking of his visit to the Russian Embassy to the Holy See following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Pope Francis said that he went alone. “I did not want anyone to accompany me. That was my personal responsibility. It was a decision I made one night while thinking about Ukraine,” the Pope said. This reports the Austrian Catholic web portal Religion.orf.

On Saturday, the Ukrainian president Zelensky said that Ukraine requested the Holy See to visit the war-torn country. “I really wanted him to come from the very beginning, to support our people in the east of the country. I wanted him to try to unblock the humanitarian corridors to Mariupol”, said Zelensky.

In the La Nacion interview on Friday, the Pope asked himself whether it would be convenient to travel to Ukraine. “I can not do anything that would put higher objectives at risk, which are the end of the war, a truce or at least a humanitarian corridor. What would be the use of the Pope going to Kyiv if the war continued the next day?”



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