Pope Francis said Sunday that the Vatican is engaged in a peace mission to try to end the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, adding that it is also ready to help return Ukrainian children who have been taken to Russia or in Russian-occupied territories.
A task is currently in progress, but it has not yet been announced. The pope told reporters on the journey back home after a three-day visit to Hungary.
I think peace is always achieved by opening channels. You can never make peace with closure… It’s not easy. »
The pope added that he had discussed the situation in Ukraine with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban and with Archbishop (Bishop) Hilarion, representative of the Russian Orthodox Church in Budapest.
“In these meetings, we didn’t just talk about Little Red Riding Hood. We talked about all these things. Everyone is interested in the path to peace.
Since Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022, Francis has pleaded for peace almost every week and has repeatedly expressed his desire to act as a mediator between Kiev and Moscow. His bid has so far failed.
Pope Francis, 86, had said earlier that he wanted to visit Kiev and Moscow on a peace mission.
Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal met the Pope at the Vatican on Thursday and said he discussed a “formula for peace” proposed by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
Shmyhal also asked for help in returning the children. Kiev estimates that nearly 19,500 children have been transferred to Russia or Russian-occupied Crimea since the invasion of Moscow in February last year, which it condemns as illegal deportations.
“The Holy See is ready to do it (help bring the children back) because it’s the right thing,” Francis said on the plane. “All human gestures help, but not gestures of cruelty. We must do everything humanly possible.”
Francis, who appeared to be in relatively good condition during the trip, spoke of his health after being hospitalized in late March with what the Vatican said at the time was bronchitis.
He said he felt so much pain at the end of his public hearing on Wednesday, March 29, that he tried to sleep.
He said, “I did not lose consciousness, but I had a high temperature, and at three o’clock in the afternoon, the doctor immediately took me to the hospital.
It was a strong, severe pneumonia of the lower part of the lung. Thank God I can talk about that. The body responded well to the treatment, thank God.” He was released on April 1.
Part of his lungs were removed as a young man in Argentina more than half a century ago.
The pope said there had been no change in plans to go to Lisbon in August for an international youth gathering and then to Marseille and Mongolia separately.
(Reporting by Philip Pullella). Written by Crispan Palmer; Editing by Hugh Lawson
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.