THE Pope Francis welcome him today new ambassador of Russia in the Vatican who stated that the Pontiff told him that he is determined to advance his peace and humanitarian initiatives for Ukraine.
Russian Ambassador Ivan Soltanovsky said Pope Francis also told him he wanted another meeting with Patriarch Kirill, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, who has strongly supported President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.
Soltanovsky, 68, a career diplomat, presented his credentials to Pope Francis at the Vatican, succeeding Alexander Avdehev who was ambassador when Russia invaded Ukraine.
The Pope had made a surprise visit to the Russian embassy in Rome a day after the Russian invasion of February 24, 2022, to express his concern to Abdegev.
“Pope Francis expressed his interest in continuing the peace missionSoltanovsky told RIA Novosti after the meeting, referring to the efforts of the Pope’s special envoy, Italian Cardinal Matteo Zuppi.
Zuppi has visited Kiev, Moscow, Washington and Beijing and intends to visit Russia in the near future.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said he was ready to meet Zuppi, a meeting that did not take place during the cardinal’s first trip to Moscow in June, when he was received by low-ranking Russian officials.
After Ukraine made it clear that it was not open to a Vatican mediation unless Russia met all of Kiev’s demands, including Russia’s total withdrawal, Zuppi’s mission focused on securing support for humanitarian efforts.
These include the repatriation of Ukrainian children. Kiev estimates that nearly 19,500 children have been taken to Russia or Russian-held Crimea since the start of the war, calling the practices illegal abductions.
The International Criminal Court (ICC) issued an arrest warrant for Putin in March, charging him with the war crime of illegally transporting hundreds of children from Ukraine to Russia. Russia, which is not a member of the ICC, denies committing war crimes.
Soltanovsky also told RIA Novosti that the Pope told him he wanted to meet Patriarch Kirill again.
Cyril has enthusiastically supported Russia’s invasion of Ukrainewhich the patriarch sees as a bulwark against what he considers a decadent West.
The meeting between Francis and Cyril in Cuba in 2016 was the first between a Pope and a Russian Orthodox Patriarch since the Great Schism of 1054 that split Christianity into Eastern and Western Churches.
Two attempts to arrange a second meeting last year, one in Jerusalem and the other in Kazakhstan, failed because of diplomatic difficulties related to the war in Ukraine.
Source: News Beast
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