Pope Francis sends envoy to Russia to discuss resolution for Ukraine war

Cardinal Zuppi visited Kyiv earlier this month

Cardinal Zuppi (File) Italian Cardinal and Papal Special Envoy Matteo Zuppi attends a meeting with Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine | Reuters

Pope Francis' envoy Cardinal Matteo Maria Zuppi will be travelling to Moscow on Wednesday to find a peaceful solution to the Ukraine war. 

Cardinal Matteo Maria Zuppi, Archbishop of Bologna and President of the Italian Bishops' Conference will be accompanied by Secretariat of State official, Vatican News reported.

“Zuppi will likely uphold Pope Francis's desire for a resolution to the war on the European continent,” the publication reported. Pope Francis had earlier said a secret mission was in place to broker peace between the warring nations. 

He is due to remain until Thursday, which is the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul an important day for both Catholic and Orthodox Christians.

The two-day mission by Cardinal Matteo Zuppi, a veteran of the Catholic Church's peace initiatives, comes as the Kremlin is reeling from the weekend armed rebellion led by mercenary chief Yevgeny Prigozhin. Russia has since dropped charges against Prigozhin and others who took part in the brief rebellion.

“The principle aim of the initiative is to encourage gestures of humanity that can contribute to favour a solution to the tragic current situation and find paths to a just peace,” the statement said.

Zuppi, 67, is a veteran of the Catholic Church's peace mediation initiatives through his longtime affiliation with the Sant'Egidio Community. Through the Rome-based charity, Zuppi helped mediate the 1990s peace deals ending civil wars in Guatemala and Mozambique, and headed the commission negotiating a cease-fire in Burundi in 2000, according to Sant'Egidio.

Zuppi visited Ukraine's capital earlier this month, on 5-6 June, as part of the peace mission. The Cardinal met Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and other senior Ukrainian government officials during the visit. During the meeting with Zelenskyy, the Cardinal expressed Vatican's readiness to assist through diplomatic channels and humanitarian initiatives.

A pastor in Francis' style and considered papabile having the qualities of a future pope Zuppi was tapped by Francis in May. The Argentine Jesuit pope has repeatedly expressed solidarity with the Ukrainian people and called for peace, but he has refrained from calling out Russia or President Vladimir Putin by name.

The Vatican has a tradition of quiet diplomacy and not taking sides in conflicts, in hopes of helping forge peaceful outcomes. 

(With PTI inputs.)

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