The ways of the Pope to achieve peace between Russia and Ukraine

From Rome

Next February 24 will be the first year of the war between Russia and Ukraine. So far the armed conflict has left more than 150,000 Russian and Ukrainian soldiers dead, as well as some 40,000 civilian victims, according to different sources. From the very beginning, Pope Francis seeks spaces that allow dialogue to be achieved first and then peace. For now, his efforts are not giving the desired results.

in search of peace

Francis first spoke of a ceasefire with the Russian ambassador to the Vatican, Alexander Avdeev, whom he had known for a long time and with whom he had good relations. The Pope made a surprise visit to the Russian embassy on the second day of the war. “I asked the ambassador to tell Putin that I was willing to travel as long as he gave me a small window to negotiate,” Francisco recounted some time later.

Since then the Argentine Pope has made about one speech a day against the war in Ukraine in the last eleven months. These interventions were gathered in a book, “Almost an Encyclical on Peace” by Francesco Grana, recently published.

Among other activities in favor of peace, on October 25 the Pope met at the Colosseum in Rome “to pray for peace in Ukraine and in the world”, together with representatives of Christian, Jewish and Muslim churches. He was one of the events of “The cry of peace” a congress organized by the Catholic organization Community of Sant’Egidio, in which representatives of the different religions participated in addition to the French president Emmanuel Macron and the Italian, Sergio Mattarella.

According to sources quoted by the Italian press, although without names, the Vatican’s attempts to open negotiations continue to this day, but through strictly confidential contacts.

This week the Vatican Secretary of State, that is, the number two of the Holy See, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, speaking to the press, acknowledged that after more than 10 months of war, “there are not many conditions to start a dialogue” but added : “The Vatican is always available to have a meeting table between the parties.” The Vatican’s intention is to “offer a space where the parties can meet and start a dialogue without preconditions. They are the ones who must determine the work methodology and the contents, ”he specified.

However, although nothing definitive had been said, it was revealed in recent days that the spokeswoman for the Russian Foreign Ministry, Maria Zajarova, rejected the idea that the Vatican could be a mediator. Referring to certain statements by the Pontiff to the Jesuit magazine America From the United States, where she had criticized the cruelty of Buryat and Chechen soldiers in Ukraine, Zakharova said: “I am afraid that the Buryat and Chechen brothers, besides us, would not appreciate it. As far as I can remember, there have been no words of apology from the Vatican.” “On November 28, I expressed indignation at the top of the Vatican diplomatic service – the Russian ambassador to the Holy See Avdeev told the Russian agency Tass – for the strange statements attributed to Pope Francis”.

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On the other hand, the Argentine Pope had directly addressed the “president of the Russian Federation” in his Angelus prayer, on Sunday, October 2, to “beg” him to cease, also out of love for his own people, “the spiral of violence and death” in Ukraine.

In addition, according to Russian diplomats, a visit by the Pope to Russia “is out of the question” because relations between the Vatican and the Russian Orthodox Church “are very tense.”

On the other hand, the possibility that the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, acts as a mediator appears to be more feasible. In fact, in Istanbul new dialogues have been held between Russian and American exponents, including those from the secret services, who have discussed various “difficult issues”, reported the Russian agency Tass. The meetings took place a few days after the agreement on the exchange of prisoners, the American basketball player Britney Griner, arrested in Russia for entering that country with marijuana cartridges for a vaporizer, and the Russian Viktor Bout, arrested in the United States for illegal trafficking of weapons.

What to do to stop the war

Meanwhile, under the title of “Europe and the war. From the spirit of Helsinki to the perspectives of peace” the Italian embassy to the Holy See organized a meeting that counted, among others, with the participation of Cardinal Parolin.

“War is a mistake and a horror,” Cardinal Parolin said at the meeting. “I repeat the call of Pope Francis in favor of peace, so that all possible diplomatic means be used,” he added, stressing that “the increase in arms is very worrying” given that this money “could instead be used to end hunger in the world and put an end to unemployment”. According to Parolin, it is necessary to “elaborate a new concept of international peace, make new rules for international relations that are now inconsistent, have courage and perseverance and aim at peace, dialogue and cooperation: a new Helsinki could rejuvenate the ideas of peace ”.

Signed on August 1, 1975, the Helsinki Agreements enshrined the inviolability of Europe’s borders and rejected any use of force and any interference in internal affairs as well as respect for human rights. In the midst of the so-called Cold War, the agreements were signed by 35 countries, including all European countries except Albania, as well as the United States, the Soviet Union and Canada. “A fratricidal barbarism is taking place. Let’s go back to the spirit of Helsinki. Never again to war, never again”, concluded Parolin.

Andrea Riccardi, founder of the Community of Sant’Egidio, a renowned Catholic organization that carries out solidarity projects and helps many poor countries in the world, stated that “if we want peace we have to know what Europe we want. To look to the future it is necessary to freeze the war”. A truce for Christmas, since these are Christian countries, “would be an important step” to cool down the conflict and be able to look towards tomorrow, “he said.

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