09 August 2022, The Tablet

Pope welcomes Ukraine grain deal as sign of hope for peace

Pope welcomes Ukraine grain deal as sign of hope for peace

Two bulk carriers with Ukrainian grain leave Chornomorsk sea port earlier this week.

Pope Francis has expressed his satisfaction that grain ships have been allowed to leave Ukrainian ports, saying the deal offers a sign of hope that a just and lasting peace can be found to the conflict in Ukraine.

Speaking on Sunday after the noon-day Angelus prayer, Francis said: “I would like to welcome the departure from Ukraine's ports of the first ships loaded with grain.” Four carrier ships set sail from Ukrainian Black Sea ports on Sunday, after the first ships left the port city of Odesa early last week since Russia invaded Ukraine on 24 February.

“This step shows that it is possible to dialogue and achieve concrete results, which benefit everyone. Therefore, this event can be seen as a sign of hope, and I sincerely hope that, following this path, we can put an end to the fighting and arrive at a just and lasting peace,” the Pope said.

Turkey and the United Nations brokered a deal in July between Russia and Ukraine to allow the export of Ukrainian foodstuffs through the Black Sea.

The UN had warned of possible outbreaks of famine in various places due to the lack of Ukrainian grain shipments. Before the war, Ukraine and Russia together made up nearly a third of global wheat exports.

A joint coordination centre has been set up in Istanbul to oversee the shipping of Ukrainian grain, staffed by Russian, Ukrainian, Turkish, and UN personnel.

Meanwhile the new head of the Moscow Patriarchate’s Department for External Church Relations met with Pope Francis on Friday last week.

It was the first visit to the Vatican of Metropolitan Anthony of Volokolamsk, who was appointed in June.

No further details of the meeting were provided by the Holy See, while the Moscow Patriarchate said the “lengthy conversation” dealt with “current issues concerning relations between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church.”

Metropolitan Anthony’s predecessor as foreign minister of the patriarchate, Metropolitan Hilarion Alfeyev, was released from his position at the beginning of June.

In recent months Kazakhstan has been discussed as a potential location for a meeting between Pope Francis and Orthodox Patriarch Kirill of Moscow, as both are expected to attend an interreligious congress there in September. The Moscow Patriarch has faced intense criticism over his pro-Russian Government stance on the war.



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