Pope says Ukraine war is driven by several 'empires', not just Russia
The Pope declares the war in Ukraine is driven by the interests of several ’empires’ and not just Russia
- The 86-year-old pontiff said the brutal conflict was fuelled by ‘imperial interests
- He expressed a readiness to talk to President Vladimir Putin to call for peace
The war in Ukraine is driven by the interests of several ’empires’ and not just of Russia, Pope Francis has said.
The 86-year-old pontiff said the brutal conflict was fuelled by ‘imperial interests, not just of the Russian empire, but of empires from elsewhere.
‘It is typical of the empire to put nations in second place,’ he added.
In the interview published Friday, the Pope expressed a readiness to talk to Russian President Vladimir Putin to call for peace.
The Pope said he tried to go to Russia to meet with Putin to bring an end to the war after the invasion in February last year.
Pope Francis waves to the crowd from the papamobile during his inauguration mass at St Peter’s square on March 19, 2013 at the Vatican
Ukrainian service members fire a mortar towards Russian troops outside the frontline town of Bakhmut
Francis and Putin have met several times, and told the interview: ‘Putin knows I’m available.’
The pontiff added: ‘On the second day of the war I went to the Russian embassy at the Holy See to say that I was willing to go to Moscow if Putin would give me a window to negotiate.
READ MORE: Pope Francis says he WILL resign if he gets ‘too tired’ to continue in the role
‘Lavrov wrote to me saying thank you but now is not the time. Putin knows I am available. But there are imperial interests there, not only of the Russian empire, but of empires elsewhere. It is typical of the empire to put nations in second place.’
Francis was speaking to Italian Swiss television RSI, in an interview due to be broadcast on Sunday. Extracts were published on Friday by Italian dailies La Repubblica, La Stampa and Corriere della Sera.
The Pope, who was born in Argentina, has repeatedly called for an end to the war and denied being pro-Putin. However, he has previously suggested the invasion of Ukraine was ‘perhaps in some way provoked’.
Asking himself last year the comment made him a supporter of Putin, he said: ‘No, I am not. It would be simplistic and wrong to say such a thing.’ He added: ‘I am simply opposed to reducing complexity to distinction between good and bad’.
The Pope also denounced the injustice of war in his message at the Christmas Eve mass last year.
The recent interview marks commemorations of the 10th anniversary of his election on March 13.
Russian President Vladimir Putin attends an awarding ceremony marking International Women’s Day at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, March 8, 2023
Ukrainian soldiers come back from Bakhmut in two BTR-80 vehicles in Chasiv Yar, Donetsk Oblast, Ukraine on March 7, 2023
During the interview he also said he would resign if he got too tired and lost the capacity to govern the Roman Catholic Church.
Last month, he had said that papal resignations should happen in only exceptional circumstances.
His predecessor Benedict XVI, who died on Dec. 31 aged 95, became the first pontiff to resign in about 600 years when he stepped down in 2013.
Asked what would lead him to make the same decision to quit, Francis said: ‘A tiredness that doesn’t make you see things clearly. A lack of clarity, of knowing how to evaluate situations’.
Francis said he was ‘a bit ashamed’ to use a wheelchair due to a knee ailment.
‘I am old. I have less physical resistance, the knee (problem) was a physical humiliation, even if the recovery is going well now,’ he said.
Pope Francis has been head of the Catholic Church since March 2013, on Monday marking 10 years of his papacy.
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