Pope urges "sincere effort" from Putin on Ukraine

June 10, 2015

June 10, 2015 Pope Francis, who is usually chatty with world leaders when they enter his study, was very serious and exceptionally formal when he greeted Putin with a brief "willkommen" (welcome) in German. The talk focused on conflicts in Ukraine and the Middle East.

Holy Father spent 50 minutes in a private meeting with the Russian leader. The tone of the Vatican statement after the meeting suggested that Pope Francis had been blunt with Putin behind closed doors. During the meeting, the pope affirmed the need to work earnestly toward peace in Ukraine and emphasized the importance of rebuilding a climate of dialogue. The pope also talked about the grave humanitarian situation in the country.

The Vatican did not say whether Francis challenged Russia about its role in the Ukraine’s conflict. Speaking before this meeting, the U.S. ambassador to the Holy See, urged to address a question of territorial integrity of Ukraine during the meeting.

The two reportedly discussed Syria and Iraq, too. Putin positioned himself as a defender of persecuted Christian minorities in war-ravaged countries such as Syria and Iraq.

Here it would be appropriate to quote Bishop Bogdan Dziurakh, Secretary of the Synod of Bishops of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church:

“In my opinion, political hypocrisy is the desire to present oneself as a defender of Christians in the Middle East, and at the same time he is involved - directly or indirectly - in the murder of Christians in the neighboring country and support it because of the constant supply of weapons and thousands of soldiers and mercenaries from Russia.”


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