Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov attends a news conference following talks with his Kyrgyz counterpart, Ruslan Kazakbayev, in Moscow March 5, 2022. Russian authorities released a statement March 8 saying that Lavrov spoke over the phone with Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state, about the ongoing hostilities in Ukraine. CNS photo/Sergei Ilnitsky, Reuters pool

Vatican secretary of state speaks with Russian foreign minister

By  Junno Arocho Esteves, Catholic News Service
  • March 8, 2022

VATICAN CITY -- In a telephone call with Russia's foreign minister, the Vatican secretary of state "conveyed Pope Francis' deep concern about the ongoing war in Ukraine," the Vatican said.

The statement from Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov's office about the phone call March 8, said that Lavrov addressed Cardinal Pietro Parolin's concerns about the war by outlining "the principled Russian position regarding the causes and goals of the special military operation being carried out in Ukraine."

Although Russian authorities, including President Vladimir Putin, have repeatedly called its attack on Ukraine a "special military operation," Pope Francis countered that assertion during his Sunday Angelus address.

"Rivers of blood and tears are flowing in Ukraine. It is not merely a military operation, but a war, which sows death, destruction and misery," the pope said March 6.

Cardinal Parolin "reiterated his call for an end to armed attacks, for the securing of humanitarian corridors for civilians and rescuers, and for the replacement of the violence of weapons with negotiation," said Matteo Bruni, director of the Vatican press office.

"In this sense, finally, the secretary of state reaffirmed the Holy See's willingness 'to do everything, to put itself at the service of this peace,'" Bruni said.

Despite Russian and Ukrainian representatives agreeing during negotiations to open corridors for civilians to flee and for the delivery of aid, Ukraine has accused Russia of consistently shelling the routes.

According to the Reuters news agency, Russia offered Ukrainians passage through humanitarian corridors that would lead civilians to Russia or its ally Belarus, an offer that a spokesman for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called "completely immoral."

Russian authorities said Lavrov and Cardinal Parolin spoke about the issues dealing with humanitarian aid and assistance to refugees.

"Particular attention was paid to humanitarian issues in connection with the conflict, including measures to protect the civilian population, the organization and functioning of humanitarian corridors and assistance to refugees," the statement said.

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