Card. Matteo Maria Zuppi. Photo: Wikipedia

Cardinal Matteo Zuppi Begins Peace Mission in Russia Entrusted to Him by the Pope 

The Vatican is expected to intervene in the prisoner exchange and the return of children taken by the Russians.

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Joachin Meisner Hertz

(ZENIT News / Moscow, 06.27.2023).- On June 28-29, 2023, Cardinal Matteo Maria Zuppi, Archbishop of Bologna and President of the Italian Episcopal Conference, accompanied by an Official of the Vatican Secretariat of State, will visit Moscow as Pope Francis’ envoy. The main objective of the visit is to encourage gestures of humanity, which might contribute to the solution of the tragic current situation between Russia and Ukraine, and find ways to attain a just peace.

“Great news. The value of this visit to Moscow is very high. Moreover, considering the recent events, I would say that the urgency and willingness for peace seem to have increased,” said Monsignor Paolo Pezzi, President of the Russian Catholic Bishops, on being contacted by SIR Agency. “I would say it’s very important that this visit was able to be organized precisely at this moment. I do not hide the fact that the expectations are very great, especially in the light of the latest events,” added Monsignor Pezzi. “Understood on the part of many  is the simple desire to look at one another in the eyes again with serenity, wanting to re-establish a link and, finally, with the desire to build.” The Archbishop of Moscow continued: “In regard to what this visit can concretely accomplish, I think, without a doubt, that the humanitarian aspect and, therefore, the situation of the prisoners of war and the situation of refugees will be in the forefront. I believe that at this level, perhaps, concrete steps will be able to be taken immediately.”

According to Monsignor Pezzi, “the fact is very important that, I hope, the Cardinal will be able to meet with Patriarch Kirill,” because “it would be an error to stay only at the political level. It’s also necessary to put into play the human, anthropological, religious factor, not  so much because it’s thought that religion as such should be involved in this situation, but because, in any case, the religious level is situated at a higher level than the political and economic level. Hence, without a doubt, this implication and the possibility of such meetings can not only open doors, not only build bridges, but also identify concrete possibilities and sure steps on the path of peace.” 

For his part, Andriy Yermak, Head of the Ukrainian Presidential Office, said to the media in Kiev that the initiative is useful if from the Vatican’s participation the exchange of prisoners takes place and the return of the children that the Russians have taken away. Yermak added that Ukraine rejects the negotiations proposed by the Vatican until the Russian Army leaves the territories it occupies in Ukraine: “We don’t need mediation, we don’t trust Russia and we think this won’t change,” he stressed. 

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