Pope Francis claimed to want to meet with the President of Russia, Vladimir Putinin Moscow to urge an end to the war in Ukraine.
He expressed that desire during an interview with Italian media, Corriere Della Serawhich was released on Tuesday (3/5).
Francis said that about three weeks after the Russo-Ukrainian war broke out, he asked Vatican diplomats to send a message to Putin.
“[Pesan itu berbunyi] that I want to go to Moscow. Of course, the Kremlin leader needed to allow this meeting. We have not received a response and we are still insisting,” Francis said, as quoted by Reuters.
He later said, “I’m afraid Putin can’t and doesn’t want to hold a meeting at this time. But why can’t you stop the brutality? Twenty-five years ago in Rwanda we went through the same thing.”
Prior to the interview, the Pope had not specifically mentioned Russia or Putin since the invasion began on February 24. But now, he does not hesitate to criticize, also using the terms aggression and invasion.
The Pope suspected Putin of carrying out the invasion because “NATO keeps barking. I don’t know if it sparks anger [Putin]but may contribute [memicu amarah].”
When asked about a possible visit to the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, Pope Francis said he didn’t want to go there right now.
“First, I have to go to Moscow. I have to meet Putin first. I do what I can if Putin is willing to open the door,” he said.
The war in Ukraine itself has strained relations between the Vatican and the Russian Orthodox Church. This conflict has also caused divisions among Orthodox Christians around the world.
To prevent further divisions, the Vatican is considering extending the pope’s one-day trip to Lebanon scheduled for June 12-13.
Thus, he was able to meet Bishop Kirill. The reason is, in a conversation last March, Kirll revealed statements to Pope Francis that were in defense of war.
However, he ended up canceling plans to meet with Kirill.
“We [paus dan keuskupan Kirill] are pastors of the same people of God. That’s why we have to find a peaceful way, stop the shooting. A bishop cannot be Putin’s altar boy,” Pope Francis said.
The Pope also said that he met the Prime Minister of Hungary, Viktor Orban, on April 21. During the meeting, Orban said that Russia plans to end the war on May 9.