Pope Francis hopes to send personal delegations to the presidents of Ukraine and Russia to mediate a ceasefire, a Catholic website has claimed.
The website Il Sismografo, which specializes in Vatican news and is generally considered authoritative, writes that this is the “mission” the pontiff spoke enigmatically about on his return from Hungary last month.
According to this source, on the basis of Francis’ plan, Cardinal Matteo Chupi from Bologna will go to Kyiv for talks with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, and Archbishop Claudio Guzerotti, the head of the Vatican’s Eastern Churches department, will go to Moscow to meet with the President of Russia Vladimir Putin. The two presidents have already agreed to meet with the Pope’s envoys, Il Simografo wrote, without citing a source or giving further details.
Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni declined to comment on the report, as quoted by a reporter in recent statements by the Vatican’s “foreign minister”, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, who has said that “now is the time to take the initiative to build a just peace in Ukraine.”
Chupi and Guggerotti were not available for comment. A diplomatic source said there was nothing “specific” yet.
In 2003, Pope John Paul II took a similar action, sending representatives to Washington and Baghdad in a failed attempt to avert a war in Iraq.
Zelensky met with Pope Francis at the Vatican on Saturday, but in his remarks immediately afterwards he downplayed the possibility of the Pope’s mediation. “With all due respect to His Holiness, we do not need mediators, we need a just peace (…) Putin only kills. We don’t need mediation with him,” said on Italian television.
On his return from Hungary on April 30, the Pope made an enigmatic statement about the Vatican’s involvement in ending the war. “There is a mission underway but it is not yet public. When that happens, I will reveal it,” he told reporters. Both Kyiv and Moscow said they knew nothing about the issue.