ON THE PAPAL PLANE (AP) — Pope Francis revealed Sunday that a secret peace “mission” into Russia’s war in Ukraine is under way, though he gave no details, and said the Vatican was willing to help facilitate the return of captured Ukrainian children. to Russia during the war.
“I’m up for anything,” Francis said during an airborne press conference on my way back from Hungary. “There’s a non-public mission going on; when it’s public, I’ll talk about it.”
Francis gave no details when asked if he had spoken about peace overtures during his talks in Budapest this weekend with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban or the representative of the Russian Orthodox Church in Hungary.
Deportation of Ukrainian children It has been a concern since Russia invaded Ukraine last year. Francis said the Holy See has already helped broker some prisoner exchanges and will do “everything humanly possible” to reunite the families.
“All human gestures help. Cruelty gestures don’t help us,” Francis said.
In March, the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant of Russian President Vladimir Putin and the Russian Children’s Commissar, accusing them of war crimes for kidnapping children from Ukraine. Russia denied any wrongdoing, saying the children were removed for their safety.
Last week, Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal met Francis in the Vatican and asked him to help return Ukrainian children. Taken after the Russian invasion.
“I have asked His Holiness to help us repatriate Ukrainians and Ukrainian children who have been detained, arrested and criminally deported to Russia,” Shmyhal told the Foreign Press Association after the audience.
Francis noted that the Holy See has facilitated some prisoner exchanges, worked through embassies, and was open to Ukraine’s request for Ukrainian children to be reunited with their families.
The prisoner exchange went well. I think it could go well for this, too. He said about the family reunion. “The Holy See is available to do that because it is the right thing,” he added. “We have to do everything humanly possible.” ___
AP religious coverage is supported by an Associated Press collaboration with The Conversation US, funded by Lilly Endowment Inc. And the AP is solely responsible for this content.
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