President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva (PT) and Pope Francis. Photo: reproduction

The Vatican’s network to facilitate that climate between Russia and Ukraine necessary to reach a cease-fire, the minimum condition for starting a second round of extremely difficult, complex and predictably long negotiations, as the days go by it almost seems to lose strength, as if the mission announced had already started at a dead end, despite the enormous efforts and goodwill of Pope Francis.

In Santa Marta, intense efforts are being made to strengthen the broadest possible collateral diplomatic network in support of the task entrusted to the Cardinal Matteo Zuppi. In this context, there is no lack of direct contacts with heads of state considered close and friendly. Three days ago the Pope had a brief conversation with Sergio Mattarella, before receiving the Paul VI award from him, and last night there was a long phone call with the Brazilian president Lulawith whom he broached the topic of peace in Kiev.

Lula would have passed on information in his possession obtained from other leaders during the G7 in Beijing, receiving Bergoglio’s blessing to become a peacemaker in the BRICS area, that is, exercising moral persuasion with India, Russia, South Africa and China.

After all, Lula is one of the few leaders who had direct access to Putin and that is why Papa Bergoglio trusts him a lot even though Lula’s position on the ukrainian conflict not be seen with favor by Kiev, since he considers responsible for the war as well Zelensky (“he wanted war”) and not just the Kremlin.

Francis in this magmatic scenario is like walking on eggshells, trying in a thousand ways to maintain a line of “equiproximity” with Kiev and Moscow as much as possible. Even if Zelensky in an interview given yesterday to an Argentine newspaper, he said that the Pope supports Ukraine and the Ukrainians.

Also yesterday, in St. Peter’s Square, the Pope renewed the appeal for peace, showing how it is possible to live as brothers and giving the example of the boys of a community in Tuscany where young Russians and Ukrainians live together. “May your example give rise to all purposes of peace, even those who have political responsibilities. And that should lead us to pray more for martyred ukraine and to be close to her”.

More than thirty days have passed since the announcement of the missionbut no official and public step has been taken by the Vatican regarding the mission of Soups. The United States gave the green light. “All plans are welcome,” US national security spokesman John Kirby told a news conference. “However, every proposal must be considered credible and sustainable and must have the support of President Volodymyr Zelensky.”

The same applies to Italian Chancellor Tajani: “the objective is to reach a just peace, which guarantees the territorial integrity of Ukraine”. What, incidentally, was definitely reaffirmed by the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen: “There must be a principle: nothing about Ukraine without Ukraine. Together with Ukraine we want a just peace, which does not reward the aggressor. But it supports the principles of the Charter of the United Nations and the right of the Ukrainian people to own their own future. President Zelensky is very clear about this. A ceasefire that results in a frozen conflict will not bring lasting peace.”

For Cardinal Matteo Zuppi, it is an increasingly complicated journey and it is not known whether he will ever be able to achieve the objective of facilitating a climate favorable to peace, even if many leading figures of the Catholic Church and the Russian Orthodox Church are moving to your aid. These are well-meaning attempts to probe the terrain, understand leeway, and build consensus. Something that is by no means guaranteed in this context.

Published in The Messenger


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