In an interview with Italian daily newspaper Corriere della Sera, Pope Francis discussed the war in Ukraine and what led to it.
“An anger facilitated” by “NATO’s barking at Russia’s door” led the Kremlin to “react badly and unleash the conflict.”
“I don’t know how to answer – I’m too far away – the question of whether it is right to supply the Ukrainians. The clear thing is that weapons are being tested there. The Russians now know that tanks are of little use and are thinking of other things. This is why wars are waged: to test the weapons we have produced. Few people are fighting this trade, but more should be done.”
Pope Francis said he “asked Cardinal Parolin, after twenty days of war, to send a message to Putin to say that I was willing to go to Moscow.”
“You cannot think that a free state can make war on another free state. In Ukraine, it seems that it was others who created the conflict. The only thing that is blamed on the Ukrainians is that they reacted in the Donbas, but we are talking about ten years ago.”
The Kremlin hasn’t responded, however.
“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 at this time. But how can this brutality not be stopped? Twenty-five years ago we experienced the same thing with Rwanda. I am not going to Kyiv for now; I feel that I must not go. First I must go to Moscow. First I must meet Putin. But I am also a priest, what can I do? I do what I can. If Putin would only open the door.”
Pope Francis said he also wants to work with Patriarch Kirill of the Russian Orthodox Church.
“I listened and I told him: I completely fail to understand this. Brother, we are not state clerics; we cannot use the language of politics, but that of Jesus. We are pastors of the same holy people of God. That is why we must seek ways of peace, stop the fire of arms. The Patriarch cannot become Putin’s altar boy. I had a meeting scheduled with him in Jerusalem on 14 June. It would have been our second face-to-face meeting, nothing to do with the war. But now even he agrees: ‘Let’s wait; it could be an ambiguous signal.'”
Without explaining further, Pope Francis said he was told “the Russians have a plan, that everything will end on May 9.”
“I am pessimistic, but we must make every possible gesture to stop the war.”