ROME — Pope Francis insisted Tuesday that Moscow Patriarch Kirill is hurting rather than helping the situation in Ukraine by his support for Putin’s war.
Asked in an interview with the Italian daily Corriere della Sera whether Patriarch Kirill, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, could be the man to help Russian President Vladimir Putin see reason, the pontiff shook his head no.
“I spoke to Kirill for 40 minutes via zoom,” Francis said. “He spent the first twenty reading me all the justifications for the war from a notecard in his hand.”
“I listened and told him: I don’t understand anything about this. Brother, we are not state clerics, we cannot use the language of politics, but that of Jesus,” the pope recounted. “We are shepherds of the same holy people of God. For this we must seek ways of peace, to put an end to the firing of weapons.”
“The Patriarch cannot transform himself into Putin’s altar boy,” Francis continued, a baptized version of calling him Putin’s lapdog.
The pope went on to say that he and Kirill had a meeting scheduled in Jerusalem on June 14th, which had nothing to do with the war, but they cancelled it since it could send an “ambiguous signal.”
In the interview, Francis said that he had sent word to Putin several weeks ago that he was willing to go to Moscow to meet with him.
“We have not yet received an answer and we are still insisting, even if I fear that Putin cannot and does not want to have this meeting right now,” the pope said. “But so much brutality how can you not stop it? Twenty-five years ago we experienced the same thing with Rwanda.”
Asked whether he is still considering going to Kiev, the pope said not for the moment.
“First, I have to go to Moscow, first I have to meet Putin. But I’m a priest too, what can I do? I do what I can. If Putin were to open the door…”
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