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Ukraine Thankful for Vatican Envoy, but no Peace Yet
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Cardinal Matteo Zuppi, the Pope's emissary to Ukraine, concluded his two-day trip to Kyiv aimed at exploring possibilities for a ceasefire with Russia. While Ukrainian authorities expressed gratitude for the visit, they emphasized their commitment to pursuing their own peace plan.
From June 5-6, Cardinal Zuppi, the President of the Italian Bishops' Conference, held extensive discussions with Ukrainian authorities in Kyiv. The Vatican described the purpose of his visit as seeking "possible ways to achieve a just peace" and supporting actions that alleviate tensions on the ground.
In a tweet on June 5, Ukrainian Ambassador to the Holy See, Andrii Yurash, welcomed the Vatican's interest in understanding the realities of the war started by Russia. He believed that gaining insight into the conflict would contribute to finding appropriate answers in pursuit of a just peace.
Cardinal Zuppi, known for his previous experience as a conflict negotiator in the Mozambique peace accords, concluded his visit to Kyiv on Tuesday. The Vatican statement described the visit as brief but intense, highlighting his meetings with national leaders and a moment of prayer at the ancient Ukrainian cathedral of Santa Sophia.
The Vatican stated that Cardinal Zuppi would inform the Pope about the outcomes of his discussions with state and religious leaders, as well as his firsthand experience of the suffering endured by the Ukrainian people due to the ongoing war. These conversations are expected to guide further humanitarian efforts and the search for a just and lasting peace.
Earlier this year, Pope Francis hinted at a peace mission to Ukraine, and it was later announced that Cardinal Zuppi would serve as the Pope's official envoy. Cardinal Zuppi's visit follows Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy's meeting with Pope Francis at the Vatican last month, during which Zelenskyy expressed gratitude for the Pope's interest but declined the offer of Vatican mediation. Zelenskyy emphasized the need for a just peace and criticized Russian President Vladimir Putin's role in the conflict.
In a statement following Cardinal Zuppi's visit, Zelenskyy's office affirmed discussions on the war and the humanitarian situation in Ukraine. They also emphasized the need for collaboration between Ukraine and the Holy See within the framework of Ukraine's Peace Formula, a ten-point peace plan that includes restoring territorial integrity, releasing Ukrainian prisoners, establishing a tribunal for Russian war crimes, and strengthening Euro-Atlantic security measures.
Zelenskyy stressed that a mere ceasefire would not lead to peace, as it would provide an opportunity for the enemy to regroup and resume attacks. He reiterated the importance of united international efforts, including increased diplomatic isolation and pressure on Russia, to achieve a just peace in Ukraine.
During the meeting, Zuppi and Zelenskyy discussed the implementation of the Ukrainian Peace Formula and the involvement of a wide range of countries, particularly from the global south, in Zelenskyy's proposed Global Peace Summit.
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Zelenskyy urged the Holy See to support Ukraine's peace plan, highlighting the Vatican's potential role in securing the release of Ukrainian prisoners and facilitating the return of deported Ukrainian children. Zuppi conveyed the Pope's solidarity, Vatican's willingness to support humanitarian initiatives, and delivered a letter from Pope Francis to Zelenskyy.
The meeting between Zelenskyy and Zuppi was considered an important step in Ukraine-Vatican relations, with the Ukrainian Peace Formula and the pursuit of a just peace at the center of the discussions.
While there have been rumors of Zuppi potentially visiting Moscow to engage with Russian authorities, the Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov stated that Russian President Vladimir Putin currently has no plans to meet with Zuppi.
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