Pope to the patriarch: No to political language

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POPE FOR PEACE This Vatican media photo taken on March 16, 2022 (March 17 in Manila) shows Pope Francis meeting with participants holding the Ukrainian flag during his weekly general audience in the Vatican’s Paul 6 Hall. AFP PHOTO

VATICAN CITY: The Church “must not use the language of politics, but the language of Jesus,” Pope Francis told Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill during a video meeting on Ukraine on Wednesday (Thursday in Manila), said the Vatican.

Kirill is a key pillar of President Vladimir Putin’s ruling apparatus and shortly after Russia invaded Ukraine last month, he called Moscow’s opponents there “forces of evil”. .

Francis, the 85-year-old head of the Roman Catholic Church, told him that “we must unite in the effort to help peace, to help those who suffer, to seek ways of peace, to stop the blows of fire,” a statement from the Vatican. noted.

He said the two religious leaders stressed the importance of negotiations between Moscow and Kyiv, with the pontiff saying, “Those who pay the price of war are the people, the Russian soldiers and the people who are bombed and are dying.”

The Vatican said the Argentine pope thanked the Russian patriarch for agreeing to the talks, which he said were motivated by a desire “as shepherds of their people” to find a way for peace in Ukraine.

The pope concluded by expressing his pain for all those who were killed, saying, “War is never the way.”

A statement from Patriarch Kirill’s office said the two leaders called for negotiations to achieve a “just peace” and discussed how to handle the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Ukraine.

Francis has called for an end to the conflict on more than one occasion, and although he condemned the “massacre” in Ukraine, he avoided mentioning Russia by name.

Ahead of the invasion, which began on February 24, the pontiff said last December he was ready to travel to Moscow to visit Kirill, with whom he had a historic meeting in Cuba in 2016.

It was the first meeting between the heads of the two largest Christian churches since Christianity split into Western and Eastern branches in the 11th century, an event known as the “Great Schism”.

Kirill also discussed the Ukraine conflict with Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby on Wednesday, the Russian church said.

“A detailed discussion of the critical situation in Ukraine took place,” the Russian church said, adding that the two men discussed the “humanitarian aspect” of the crisis.


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