On his return from a three-day visit to Hungary, Pope Francis told journalists on April 30 that the Vatican is involved in a peace mission to try to end Russia’s war against Ukraine, Reuters reported.

“There is a mission in course now but it is not yet public. When it is public, I will reveal it,” the Pope said.

“I think that peace is always made by opening channels. You can never achieve peace through closure.”

The Pope also announced that he discussed the situation in Ukraine with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán.

While in Budapest, the Pope met with Metropolitan Hilarion, a representative of the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC) in Budapest, who was considered the ROC’s “foreign minister” in the lead-up to the war. In fact, Hilarion had met with the Pope in Rome on Dec. 22, 2021, just two months before Moscow attacked.

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The two first met in 2013, shortly after Francis acceded to the papacy.

Shortly after Russia attacked Ukraine, Hilarion was effectively demoted. From being the “foreign minister” of the ROC, he was sent to Budapest, considered a backwater post among Orthodox clergy. Although he has neither explicitly supported nor condoned Russia’s war against Ukraine, Kremlin watchers interpret the demotion as punishment for Hilarion’s muted opposition to Kirill, the ROC Patriarch who has publicly condoned Moscow’s attack on Ukraine.

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Nevertheless, the Security and Defense Council of Ukraine introduced sanctions against Hilarion and 21 other clerics on Jan. 23, 2023.

The Pope has made no efforts to hide his admiration of Hilarion.

“We have always had a good relationship and [Hilarion] had the courtesy to come visit me, and he was at the Mass [in Budapest]. I also saw him at the airport,” the Pope said, adding: Hilarion is an intelligent person with whom you can talk.

With what has now come to be expected as a note of characteristic flippancy with regard to the situation in Ukraine, the pontiff said: “In these meetings we did not just talk about Little Red Riding Hood. We spoke of all these things. Everyone is interested in the road to peace.”

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Pope Francis, 86, has said he is willing to travel to Ukraine, but only on the condition that he can also travel to Moscow. I will go to both places or to neither, he told the Argentinian newspaper La Nacion in March of this year.

During his visit in late April to Rome, Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba told the Italian press, “Our invitation [for the Pope to come to Ukraine] is still valid, it is a permanently open invite, he can come at any time.

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Comments ( 1)

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E A Morgan-Coakle
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Jesus perfected the ideas of man saying : love your enemies. Do good to those that hate you.
The earlier ideas in the bible "..there is a time to hate" are error.
Self defence is right, genocide is wrong - always.

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