Bandera De Ukraine Y Rusia. Photo: The Organization For World Peace

Russia and Ukraine Contradict Pope Francis: They Are Unaware of the Vatican’s Peace Mission

From the press room of the Holy See no statement has been issued to clarify why the Pope is referring to with «a mission» that all is not public. Las partes, por lo pronto, aseguran no estar enteradas.

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(ZENIT News / Rome, 04.02.2023).-On the return flight from Budapest to Rome, Pope Francis answered a question about a peace process between Ukraine and Russia and an eventual meeting between Francis himself and Putin. It was in that context that the Holy Father said: “I am ready to do everything that has to be done. Moreover, there is now a mission underway, but it’s not public yet. We’ll see how . . . When it’s public I’ll tell it.”

This simple statement sparked newspaper headlines. The headlines interpreted it as a peace mission on the part of the Vatican, which would mediate between Russia and Ukraine. However, a day after the Pontiff’s statement, both Russia and Ukraine denied knowing about the mission that would involve them. 

 Questioned by the press, the Kremlin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said to TASS Agency that they were not aware of any peace mission by the Vatican, in his own words: “We don’t know anything.”

However, it wasn’t only Russia that contradicted the Pope. Ukraine also said it had no knowledge of the Vatican’s peace mission. The tone was even more inflamed as Kiev stated that if it was happening, it is without President Zelenski’s consent, according to a government source in a statement to CNN.  

The two countries were not the only ones to issue statements. Given that the Pope met in Budapest (out of program) with the former number two of the Russian Orthodox Church, Archbishop Hilarion, the latter published a video to deny rumours such as that he had talked to the Pope about a secret plan. 

Hilarion said: “Insinuations have appeared in the press according to which I met with Pope Francis to give him information in order to come to some secret agreements or other political ends. I respond to those that are interested: there was nothing concerning bilateral relations between the Roman Catholic Church and the Russian Orthodox Church. Political questions weren’t discussed. The meeting was of a personal nature between two old friends.” 

Pope With Metropolitan Hilarion © L'Osservatore Romano

Hilarion also explained the reason for their meeting: ”In the last [few] hours many people have asked me why I met with Pope Francis, as there were no separate meetings with the Representative of Constantinople or with other Orthodox Bishops. The meeting is explained by our personal friendship of more than ten years, when he was elected Pope in March of 2013. I was the envoy of the Russian Church for his investiture ceremony. The following day I talked privately with him for an hour. He was the third Pope I knew in my life: once John Paul II and four times Benedict XVI. In Pope Francis’ case I realized he had much experience in bilateral relations.” 

Finally, Hilarion said: “Hungary is a country with a predominantly Catholic population and the Pope was warmly received by tens of thousands of people. Hungary is the only country of the European Union that is open despite the pressures of Washington and Brussels. It’s a country that protects Christian values and is systematically opposed to the propaganda of liberalism, moral permissiveness and libertinage. The Hungarian Constitution begins with the words God bless the Hungarians and it’s a quote from the Hungarian national anthem, which is nothing other than a prayer. The Constitution states that we are proud that, a thousand years ago, our King Saint Stephen made our country part of Christian Europe. Christian values are protected in Hungary’s Constitution, in particular, marriage, defined as  the union between a man and a woman; every person has the right to life and his/her dignity; the foetus has the right to protection from conception . . . “

The Holy See has not issued a statement to specify what the Pope is referring to in regard to “a mission” that is not yet public. For now, the parties assert they are not aware of such a mission. 

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