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Human Rights

Vatican working on secret peace mission in Ukraine, says Pope Francis

“I’m available to do anything,” Pope Francis said. “There’s a mission that’s not public that’s underway; when it’s public I’ll talk about it.”

Pope Francis
Pope Francis | Shutterstock

May 1, 2023 8:46am

Updated: May 1, 2023 8:46am

Pope Francis on Sunday said that the Vatican is working on a secret peace “mission” to try to bring an end to Russia’s war in Ukraine, without giving any further details. 

“I’m available to do anything,” Pope Francis said during a press conference on his flight back from a three-day visit to Hungary. “There’s a mission that’s not public that’s underway; when it’s public I’ll talk about it.”

“I think that peace is always made by opening channels. You can never achieve peace through closure … This is not easy,” he added. 

During his visit to Hungary, the Pope spoke with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban and with Metropolitan Hilarion, a bishop representing the Russian Orthodox Church in Budapest, about the war in Ukraine. 

“In these meetings, we did not just talk about Little Red Riding Hood. We spoke of all these things. Everyone is interested in the road to peace,” the Pope said.

The Pope has relentlessly called for peace between Kyiv and Moscow ever since Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. He has also expressed his wishes to act as a broker between both parties in order to achieve a peace treaty. 

The Pope has already helped mediate some prisoner exchanges between Russia and Ukraine and has been working to reunite families that were separated by the war. 

“All human gestures help. Gestures of cruelty don’t help,” Pope Francis said.

Last week, Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal met with the Pope in the Vatican to ask him to help return children who were forcibly taken to Russia after the invasion.

“I asked His Holiness to help us return home Ukrainians, Ukrainian children who are detained, arrested, and criminally deported to Russia,″ Shmyhal told the Foreign Press Association after the audience.