Home Christian News Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill Discuss Ukraine War for First Time

Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill Discuss Ukraine War for First Time

“The parties stressed the exceptional importance of the ongoing negotiation process, expressing their hope for the soonest achievement of a just peace,” the statement read.

Metropolitan Hilarion, who heads the external relations for the Orthodox Church in Moscow, was also present during the online conversations, as well as Cardinal Kurt Koch, who runs the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.

The two church leaders also “discussed a number of current issues of bilateral cooperation,” the statement said, while providing no further details.

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Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill met for the first time in 2016 in the airport of Havana, where they signed a joint declaration meant to initiate a dialogue between the two faith communities, which have been estranged for a thousand years.

FILE – Pope Francis, left, reaches to embrace Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill after signing a joint declaration at the Jose Marti International airport in Havana, Cuba, Friday, Feb. 12, 2016. Plans are progressing for a meeting next year between Pope Francis and the leader of the Russian Orthodox Church following their historic encounter in Havana in 2016, a top Russian Orthodox official said Wednesday, Dec. 22, 2021. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia, Pool, File)

When Russian forces invaded Ukraine in late February, the hope for a second encounter between the two church leaders, which had been rumored to be planned for this coming summer, seemed to be officially defenestrated. When, during his homily March 6, Kirill made an impassioned defense of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s justifications for the attack on Ukraine, Vatican observers pointed to the failure of the Vatican appeasement toward the Orthodox Church in Moscow.

The conflict in Ukraine, Kirill said, has gained a “metaphysical significance” in the clash between East and West, where gay parades are a “test of loyalty” for the occult forces working within the United States and international organizations.

Pope Francis and his second-in-command, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, have repeatedly stated the willingness of the Holy See to act as a mediator for peace between Russia and Ukraine. Pope Francis has called for an end to the war and urged parties involved to negotiate a peace, while avoiding singling out Russia. The decision is in line with the practice of the Vatican to remain above ongoing conflicts and position itself as an objective mediator.

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This article originally appeared on ReligionNews.com.