Pope Francis, on his possible trip to Ukraine: “I am available” | International


Pope Francis, in full flight back from his trip to Malta, referred to the conflict in Ukraine in the traditional press conference he holds on the plane. The Pontiff ratified his willingness to travel to kyiv if necessary and his presence there could help improve the situation. But he left the door open for further diplomatic analysis of the desirability of such a trip. “I am willing to do everything that can be done. The Holy See in the diplomatic part is doing everything, everything”, he pointed out.

The Pope, who claimed to ignore at that time the news of the massacre of civilians perpetrated by the Russian Army in the city of Bucha, insisted that the Vatican is making an effort to help find a solution. “Not everything we do can be published, out of prudence and discretion. But we are at the limit. And among the possibilities is travel. One of them was requested by the president of Poland, and we sent Cardinal Konrad Krajewski. He has gone twice. The other trip that others have asked me to, and I say this sincerely… I have it in mind. Availability is always there. There is no not. I’m available. But I don’t know if it can be done, if it’s convenient to do it and it’s good, it will be done. It’s all up in the air.”

The trip to kyiv seems too remote a possibility due to the diplomatic connotations it would have and the conflict it could generate with Moscow. However, Francis also confirmed that he is moving forward in a possible meeting with the Orthodox Patriarch of Moscow, Kirill. “A meeting with him has been thought of for a long time. We think it may be in the Middle East… That’s the way things are now.” Kiril was very belligerent at the beginning of the war and came to justify the invasion of the Ukraine for religious and moral reasons, something that made Rome very uncomfortable.

Since the start of the war, the Pope has avoided referring directly to Russia or President Vladimir Putin. The Holy See has been making delicate balances for years to keep the dialogue open with Moscow and improve a complicated situation. In the last month, the Vatican has not changed that strategy.

When asked by journalists, Francis avoided saying what he would say to Putin if he spoke to him. “The things that I have said to the authorities of each place are public. Nothing I have said is reserved. Patriarch Kirill actually made a good statement about what we said to each other. I spoke with the president of Russia at the end of the year, he called me to congratulate me. Also with Zelenski, twice. And on the first day of the war I thought I had to go to the Embassy to talk to the Russian ambassador, ask the questions and give my opinion. With Russia I did it like this”, he pointed out.

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The Pope did refer to Putin during the trip, but without actually naming him. He for the first time directly criticized his figure. “Some powerful person, sadly locked in the anachronistic pretensions of nationalist interests, provokes and foments conflicts. Ordinary people realize the need to build a future, which will be together or it will not be”.

“My health is capricious,” he says about his knee problems

Francisco has had some difficulties during this trip to be able to walk normally. The Pontiff had to access and disembark from the plane through a side elevator, because he could not go up and down the stairs. For some time now he has had problems with a knee, which does not allow him to make certain movements. He himself explained it on the plane when asked: “My health is a bit capricious. I have a knee problem, which causes locomotor problems. But it improves, at least now I can walk. Two weeks ago I couldn’t even do that. It’s kind of slow. Let’s see if he goes back, but at this age you don’t know how the game will end. Let’s hope it goes well,” he noted.

Recent times have been somewhat complicated for his health. Last summer he was already hospitalized for a colon problem that he had to undergo surgery for. Now, they point out in his surroundings, he has suffered severe pain that has greatly complicated his ability to walk. Still, he has two long trips scheduled next July: to South Sudan and the Republic of Congo, and to Canada.

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