Russia allegedly views Pope Francis’ peace initiative positively, no immediate plans for Moscow mission

Russia on Friday He indicated that he viewed Pope Francis’ Ukraine peace initiative positively, but emphasized that there were no immediate plans for a Vatican mission in Moscow.

The Russian Foreign Ministry’s statement to the state-run RIA Novosti agency was the first public acknowledgment by Moscow of the pope’s move. It comes after the Vatican announced over the weekend that Italian Cardinal Matteo Zoppi, a veteran of the Catholic Church’s peace mediation initiatives, had been tapped by Francis as his envoy.

“We recognize the sincere desire of the Holy See to promote the peace process,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said, according to RIA Novosti. “At the same time, no practical steps have been taken by the Vatican to regulate the trip to Moscow.”

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Zoppi told reporters on Thursday that the scope of the mission was to “help reduce the tension of the conflict” with the hope that it could play a role in “pathways to peace”. He paralleled his efforts in the 1990s with the Rome-based Saint Egidio community to help mediate peace talks that ended the civil war in Mozambique.

Cardinal Matteo Zoppi, head of the Italian Bishops’ Conference, speaks during a press conference at the Vatican on May 25, 2023. (AP Photo/Dominico Steinles)

Still, Zoppi noted, Of the church The initiative began with the hope of finding “roads to peace” and resulted in meetings that brought the warring parties closer together and “bonded bonds” between the factions and eventually a peace agreement.

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“The effort (in Ukraine) will certainly be in that sense,” Zoppi said, speaking at the end of a gathering of the Italian bishops’ conference. “We will see.”

Francis announced the peacekeeping mission last month on his way home from Hungary, where he met with the envoy of the Russian Orthodox Church, which has strongly supported the Kremlin’s war effort. In the weeks that followed, Francis met at the Vatican with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who made it clear he would not accept territorial concessions, rejecting Francis’ references to victims on both sides of the conflict. Said that there can be no equality between the victim and the attacker. .

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Zoppi noted that Francis’ hope for peace “moved the Holy Father to tears,” a reference to Dec. 8, when Francis wept before a statue of the Madonna in downtown Rome as he prayed. Peace in Ukraine.

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