Pope Francis wants to visit Moscow and Kyiv to try to end Russia’s war against Ukraine.
In an interview with Reuters published on Monday, the pontiff said there had been contacts between Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov over a possible trip to Moscow.
“We exchanged messages about this because I thought that if the Russian president gave me a little window to serve the cause of peace,” then he would go to Moscow to talk to Putin, the pope said.
“It is possible, after my return from Canada [at the end of July]that I manage to go to Ukraine,” he added.
“The first thing is to go to Russia to try to help one way or another, but I would like to go to both capitals.” He did not say whether Moscow or Kyiv had officially accepted a papal visit.
Francis has repeatedly criticized the Russian invasion of Ukraine, but also made controversial remarks and refused to denounce Putin by name. As recently as mid-June he said in an interview with an Italian Jesuit magazine that the war in Ukraine had been “perhaps somehow provoked or not prevented.”
He also previously said he wanted to visit Russia because of the war in Ukraine, but not Kyiv. In an interview with Corriere della Serra in May, he said: “I’m not going to Kyiv at the moment – I have to go to Moscow first, first I have to meet Putin.”
During the interview with Reuters, the pope also denied rumors that he would resign soon, as well as reports that he had cancer.