Ukrainian President Zelensky Meets with Pope Francis in Rome to Discuss War Crimes and Peace Plan
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky recently visited Rome, where he met with political leaders and had an audience with Pope Francis. The meeting with Pope Francis was particularly noteworthy, as it marked their first meeting since the start of the full-scale war with Russia. Since the beginning of the war, the Vatican has made numerous attempts to act as a mediator between Russia and Ukraine. However, some specialists have raised doubts about the Catholic Church's ability to play a role in resolving a conflict between two primarily Orthodox nations.
During their meeting, Zelensky asked the pope to condemn Russian war crimes and sought support for his peace plan from the pontiff, who in the past has offered to try to help end the war launched by Russia's invasion of Ukraine a year ago. The pope also indicated the Vatican would help in the repatriation of Ukrainian children taken by Russians. In a tweet after the audience, Zelensky expressed gratitude to Francis for “his personal attention to the tragedy of millions of Ukrainians.”
Zelensky also met with Italian President Sergio Mattarella and Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni during his visit to Rome. He is reportedly expected to head to Berlin next for what would be his first visit to Germany since the war began. Due to security concerns, the precise schedule was not disclosed publicly.
Since the start of the war on Feb. 24, 2022, Zelensky and other Ukrainian officials have made regular appeals for the pope to visit the war-torn country. The pontiff expressed his willingness to make a visit, but on the condition that he could also journey to Moscow to implore for peace. In a recent interview, the pope reiterated his desire to visit Ukraine and said he was engaged in a behind-the-scenes peace mission to put an end to the conflict, though he gave no details.
Overall, Zelensky's visit to Rome and meeting with Pope Francis highlights the ongoing efforts to bring an end to the conflict between Ukraine and Russia. The involvement of the Vatican and other international actors shows the importance of finding a peaceful resolution to the ongoing crisis, which has caused immense suffering for millions of Ukrainians.
0. “Pope Francis and Ukraine’s President Zelenskyy meet at Vatican” Catholic News Agency, 13 May. 2023, https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/254303/pope-francis-and-ukraine-s-president-zelenskyy-meet-at-vatican
1. “Ukraine war: Pope tells Zelensky he is ‘praying for peace'” BBC, 13 May. 2023, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-65581170
2. “Zelenskyy meets with Pope Francis at Vatican, says he sought backing for his peace plan” CNBC, 13 May. 2023, https://www.cnbc.com/2023/05/13/zelenskyy-meets-with-pope-francis-at-vatican-says-he-sought-backing-for-his-peace-plan.html
3. “Zelenskyy meets with Italian officials, Pope Francis in Rome” POLITICO Europe, 13 May. 2023, https://www.politico.eu/article/zelenskyy-in-rome-to-meet-italian-officials-pope-francis/
4. “Pope Francis meets with Ukrainian President Zelenskyy in wartime encounter at Vatican” National Catholic Reporter, 13 May. 2023, https://www.ncronline.org/vatican/vatican-news/pope-francis-meets-ukrainian-president-zelenskyy-wartime-encounter-vatican