Pope Francis has said in an interview that he has asked President Vladimir Putin for a meeting in Moscow, but that he’s still waiting for a reply from the Russian president.
The request to meet with Putin isn’t new. According to an Italian newspaper, Francis requested the meeting three weeks into the conflict when he asked the Vatican’s top diplomat to send a message to Putin.
When the war started, Francis even made an unprecedented visit to the Russian embassy in Italy. But still, there is no reply from Putin.
In a recent interview with Italy’s Corriere Della Sera newspaper, the pope compared the killings in Ukraine to the genocide in Rwanda back in 1994.
“I fear that Putin cannot, and does not, want to have this meeting at this time. But how can you not stop so much brutality? Twenty-five years ago in Rwanda we lived through the same thing.”
Francis got as far as getting a meeting with Patriarch Kirill of the Russian Orthodox Church who has given the war his full backing.
It’s been reported that during this online meeting held on 16 March, Kirill spent half of the 40-minute meeting reading his list of justifications for the war.
News24 reports that Russia describes its action in Ukraine as a “special operation” to demilitarise and “de-Nazify” its neighbour. Kirill, 75, sees the war as a bulwark against a West he considers decadent, particularly over the acceptance of homosexuality.
Image credit: Sky News