Vatican Spokesman: Pope Is Not Taking Sides in Ukraine Conflict

Fr. Federico Lombardi Says Pontiff’s Appeal for Peace Meant for All Parties Involved

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The Holy See clarified remarks made by Pope Francis regarding the crisis in Ukraine, saying that he has always addressed all parties involved in the conflict.

During his weekly General Audience on February 4th, the Holy Father called for peace, calling the conflict «fratricidal violence.»

«I think of you, brothers and sisters of Ukraine,» he said. «But think about this, this is a war among Christians! You have your Baptism, you are fighting among Christians! Think about this, this scandal! And let us pray so that prayer may be our protest in front of God in times of war.»

Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Holy See Press Office, spoke to journalists today stressing that the Pope has renewed his appeal for peace several times while underlining the urgent need for negotiations to resume.

However, some in the Ukraine has misinterpreted the Holy Father’s remarks as taking sides with Russia for the sake of maintaining ecumenical relations with the Russian Orthodox Church.

«I consider it useful to specify that he has always wished to address all the interested parties, trusting in the sincere efforts of each one to implement agreements reached by common consent and invoking the principle of international law, to which the Holy See has referred several times since the beginning of the crisis,» Fr. Lombardi said regarding the Holy Father’s Feb. 4thappeal.  «As St. John Paul II often repeated, humanity must find the courage to substitute the right to force with the power of law.»

The Vatican spokesman said that Pope Francis is «joyfully» awaiting the ad Limina visit of the Ukrainian Episcopate on February 16-21.

«This will constitute a further occasion to meet those brother Bishops, to be directly informed on the situation of that dear country, to console the Church and those who suffer and to evaluate together paths for reconciliation and peace,» he concluded.

Last week, Patriarch Kirill, the Russian Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia praised the Holy See’s stance for a halt to the conflict and appealing for peace on both sides.

«I would like to note with satisfaction that the Holy See itself has always pursued a balanced stance toward the situation in Ukraine and has avoided any lop-sided assessments, but has called for peace talks and an end to armed clashes,» he said.

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Junno Arocho Esteves

Newark, New Jersey, USA Bachelor of Science degree in Diplomacy and International Relations.

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