Pope Francis has said he offered to travel to Moscow to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin in an effort to stop the war in Ukraine but has yet to hear back.
The pontifex made the request for a meeting via the Vatican secretary of state, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, 20 days after Putin ordered troops to enter Ukraine on February 24, the pope told the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera in an interview published on Tuesday.
Popes for decades have sought to visit Moscow as part of the longstanding effort to heal relations with the Russian Orthodox Church, which split with Rome more than 1,000 years ago. But an invitation has never been forthcoming.
“Of course, it would be necessary for the leader of the Kremlin to make available some window of opportunity,” the pope was quoted as saying.
“But we still have not had a response and we are still pushing, even if I fear that Putin cannot and does not want to have this meeting at this moment,” he added.
Following suggestions over a visit to the Ukrainian capital, the pope was clear: “I am not going to Kyiv now … I have to go to Moscow first, I have to meet Putin.”