Pope Francis responds to questions from journalists during his flight from Hungary back to Rome April 30, 2023. CNS photo/Vatican Media

Kremlin, Ukraine deny working with Vatican on peace talks

By  Justin McLellan, Catholic News Service
  • May 2, 2023

VATICAN CITY -- Moscow is not working with the Vatican to end the war in Ukraine, said a Kremlin spokesperson.

Asked by reporters May 2 if the Russian government was aware of a Vatican-led plan referenced by Pope Francis to advance the peace process in Ukraine, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov responded: "No, nothing is known," Russian state media reported.

On his return flight to Rome from Budapest, Hungary, April 30, Pope Francis told reporters that the Holy See was engaged in a "mission" related to peace between Russia and Ukraine.

"There is a mission underway that is not public yet; when it is public, I will tell you about it," the pope said.

The pope did not say if the "mission" was diplomatic, humanitarian or something else.

According to CNN, the Ukrainian government also denied engaging with the Vatican in peace talks.

"President Zelenskyy has not consented to any such discussions on Ukraine's behalf," CNN reported a source close to the Ukrainian president as saying. "If talks are happening, they are happening without our knowledge or our blessing."

Pope Francis met with Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal at the Vatican April 27, one day before departing for his trip to Hungary. At Shmyhal's meeting with the Vatican secretary of state, the Vatican said, "various matters connected to the war in Ukraine were highlighted, with particular attention to the humanitarian aspects and efforts to restore peace."

Asked during his April 30 press conference about his meetings with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, a friend of Russian President Vladimir Putin, and Russian Orthodox Metropolitan Hilarion of Budapest and Hungary, the pope said that "peace is made by opening channels."

"You cannot create peace with closure," he said.

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