“We will not tire of defending freedom and democracy, and keeping up the pressure on Putin, until Ukraine succeeds.”
The Russian Orthodox Church is an autocephalous Eastern Orthodox Church with an estimated 150 million members, accounting for more than half of the world’s Orthodox Christians.
The Ukraine war has strained the Moscow Patriarchate’s relations with other Eastern Orthodox Churches.
It has also prompted Catholic bishops across Europe to urge Kirill to denounce the invasion. They include Poland’s Archbishop Stanisław Gądecki, Germany’s Cardinal Reinhard Marx, Luxembourg’s Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich, and the Irish bishops.
In an interview published in May, Pope Francis explained that he had expressed concern about Patriarch Kirill’s stance on the war during a video conference call on March 16.
The pope added that he and Kirill had called off a meeting scheduled for June 14 in Jerusalem, saying “we agreed that it could send the wrong message.”
Pope Francis said in an interview published this week that he hoped to meet Patriarch Kirill in Kazakhstan in September.
“I had a 40-minute conversation with Patriarch Kirill. In the first part, he read me a declaration in which he gave reasons justifying the war. When he finished, I intervened and told him: ‘Brother, we are not clerics of the State, we are pastors of the people,’” the pope recalled.
“I was to have met him on June 14 in Jerusalem, to talk about our shared issues. But with the war, by mutual agreement, we decided to postpone the meeting to a later date, so that our dialogue would not be misunderstood.”
“I hope to meet him at a general assembly in Kazakhstan in September. I hope to be able to greet him and speak a little with him as a pastor.”