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Cardinal Pietro Parolin (CNS/YouTube, COP28 UAE Official)

Pope Francis was not asking Ukraine to consider surrendering to Russia when he called for negotiations to end the war, but he was calling for both Russia and Ukraine to cease hostilities and engage in peace talks, the Vatican’s top diplomat said yesterday. Source: CNS.

It’s “obvious” that creating the conditions for a diplomatic resolution to the war in Ukraine “is not only up to one side, but to both sides,” Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state, said in an interview with Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera. The first step toward reaching peace, he added, is “to put an end to the aggression.”

The responsibility for ceasing hostilities in Ukraine falls “first and foremost to the aggressor”, he said without explicitly naming Russia. Only then, he said, can negotiations begin.

“The Holy Father explains that to negotiate is not weakness, but strength. It is not surrender, but courage,” he said.

The Cardinal’s comments came after the release on March 9 of portion of an interview in which the Pope said the warring sides in Ukraine must have “the courage of the white flag” – a term typically associated with surrender but which the Vatican said was intended to mean an openness to negotiations.

Ukrainian civil and church leaders spoke out in response to the Pope’s comments. Without directly mentioning Pope Francis, Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Sunday praised church leaders who were on the frontline supporting Ukraine’s defence and “not two and a half thousand kilometres away somewhere virtually mediating between someone who wants to live and someone who wants to destroy you”.

In a March 10 post on X, Ukraine’s foreign minister said the Pope’s call for negotiations appeared to put good and evil “on the same footing,” and the bishops of the Permanent Synod of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church released a statement in which they said that “with Putin there will be no negotiations.”


Vatican’s top diplomat says Russia and Ukraine must negotiate (CNS)


Parolin: For the Pope, negotiation is not surrender, but a condition for just and lasting peace (Vatican News)