“I spoke to the president of Russia at the end of the year, when he called to wish me a happy birthday. We spoke. I spoke to the president of Ukraine twice.”
According to the Kremlin, Putin phoned the pope in December to congratulate him on his 85th birthday.
Pressed to say what his message to the Russian president would be today, the pope answered: “The messages that I have given to all the authorities are those that I gave publicly. I don’t do doublespeak. I always say the same.”
He then went on to speak about just and unjust wars, reflecting on the Second World War, the United Nations, Mahatma Gandhi, and his own appeal for peace in his 2020 encyclical Fratelli tutti.
A summit with Patriarch Kirill?
Pope Francis also told journalists that he was considering a face-to-face summit with Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia.
The pope said that the meeting with the head of the Russian Orthodox Church could take place in the Middle East. It would be their second encounter since their historic meeting at Havana airport in Cuba in 2016.
The pope and the patriarch discussed the conflict during a video conference call on March 16.
Patriarch Kirill, who is considered close to Putin, has faced widespread criticism for his stance on the Ukraine war.
He has received appeals from Catholic bishops across Europe to speak out against the invasion.
Among those who have called on him to intervene to end the war are Poland’s Archbishop Stanisław Gądecki, Germany’s Cardinal Reinhard Marx, the Irish bishops, and Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich, president of the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Union (COMECE).
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