Pope Francis, in an interview with the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, said that after the start of the war in Ukraine, he had a 40-minute Zoom conversation with Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia. The conversation took place on March 16.
For the first 20 minutes, he read from a piece of paper in his hand, all the reasons that justify the Russian invasion. I listened to him, and then answered: “I don’t understand any of this. Brother, we are not government clerics, we must speak not in the language of politics, but in the language of Jesus. We are shepherds of the same holy flock of God. For this reason, we must look for a path to peace, we must stop fighting. A patriarch cannot stoop to Putin’s altar boy.”
The pontiff also said that back in mid-March he requested a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, at which he wanted to ask to stop the war. However, Moscow has not yet responded to the Vatican’s proposal.
Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill intended to meet in June in Jerusalem, but amid the war, they decided to postpone the meeting.
At the end of April, the Italian newspaper Il Messaggero reported that the Pope appealed to the Russian authorities three times with a request to organize a humanitarian corridor for the exit of civilians from Mariupol. All three times he was refused: Russia made it clear to the Vatican that it does not guarantee the safe exit of the civilian population.