The Vatican’s secretary of state has said that a truce in Ukraine is “not only feasible, but necessary and urgent”.
In an interview with the Italian weekly Famiglia Cristiana published on 13 October, Cardinal Pietro Parolin said that he was “not in a position to tell you what peace is possible”, but emphasised that “an end to the clashing of arms, the bombing, the destruction, is a necessary first step”.
He said that a truce would provide an opportunity to build a just peace, but observed that “there is no justice without forgiveness”. This would require “a change of attitude reflected in actions”, he said, calling for “gestures of trust and goodwill, that create the conditions for dialogue and open the way to negotiations”.
“The Pope has been clear on this,” Cardinal Parolin added, referring to Pope Francis’s appeals last week to both Russian and Ukrainian governments to “be open” to negotiations.
On Tuesday, the Holy See’s permanent representative to the United Nations, Archbishop Gabriele Caccia spoke at an emergency special session of the UN General Assembly, quoting the Pope’s plea for a truce that would allow “for the start of negotiations that will lead to solutions that are not imposed by force, but consensual, just and stable”.
Archbishop Caccia said that any solutions should be “based in respect for the sacrosanct value of human life, as well as on the sovereignty and territorial integrity of each country”.
Pope Francis offered further prayers for the victims of the war at the end of his general audience on Wednesday, saying that his “heart is with the Ukrainian people, especially with the inhabitants of the places where the bombings have raged”. This followed widespread Russian missile attacks in response to Ukrainian advances in the south of the country.
Cardinal Parolin also insisted that “the door remains open and dialogue is not interrupted” between the Vatican and the Moscow patriarchate.
“On the part of the Holy See,” he said, “the desire has never waned even if circumstances have prevented it from becoming a reality. We sense that there is also this desire on the part of the Orthodox Church.”
In contrast, on 3 October the Russian Orthodox prelate responsible for the patriarchate’s foreign affairs said that relations with the Catholic Church were “practically frozen”.
Speaking on the state television station Russia 24, Metropolitan Anthony Sevryuk said: “At this stage I must say that some comments we read and hear not only from the lips of the Pope, but also the great part of his aides, absolutely do not contribute to the preparation of a new meeting and further cooperation.”
Catholics in Russia have joined Pope Francis’s prayers for peace, reciting the rosary for that intention at Moscow’s Cathedral of the Mother of God on 7 October, the feast of the Holy Rosary, Agenzia Fides reported.
The Archbishop of Moscow, Paolo Pezzi, introduced the prayers: “Bringing peace does not mean smoothing out all the roughness and levelling the difference. Bringing peace means accepting everyone, even those who think differently from us. Peace is above all the ability to forgive.”