Wednesday, June 7, 2023

Pope’s envoy to Ukraine describes war as a “pandemic” that affects everyone

Pope Francis’ peace envoy to Ukraine, a stalwart of the Catholic Church’s conflict mediation efforts, called the war a “pandemic” on Tuesday and said all Christians are called to be peace negotiators.

In his first public remarks since being appointed envoy to Ukraine, Cardinal Matteo Zuppi called for building a culture of peace to respond to the “deep concern, sometimes untold, often unheard, of people in need of peace” .

The Vatican confirmed on Saturday that Francis had entrusted Zuppi with a mission “to help reduce tensions in the conflict in Ukraine, with the Holy Father’s eternal hope that this could usher in a path to peace.” No further details were released and the Vatican said the situation was still under review.

Zuppi, 67, is Archbishop of Bologna and president of the Italian Episcopal Conference, and has experience of the Church’s peace mediation initiatives during his long work with the community of Sant’Egidio.

Through that Rome-based charity, Zuppi helped mediate a 1990 peace accord that ended wars in Guatemala and Mozambique and led the commission that negotiated a 2000 ceasefire in Burundi. According to Sant’Egidio.

Zuppi, a Franciscan-style priest who is believed to have a chance to become pope in the future, was appointed last year to lead the Italian bishops’ conference. In that role, he opened the conference’s spring gathering on Tuesday with a varied address on the Italian Church that also mentioned Ukraine.

Citing the pope’s frequent and heartfelt displays of solidarity with the “martyr” Ukrainian people, Zuppi appeared to respond to consistent criticism of the Vatican’s diplomatic tradition of neutrality and Francis’ reluctance to publicly denounce the Kremlin.

Zuppi indicated that Francis was not neutral in calling for peace.

“We thank his foresight today, unusual today when talking about peace is seen as avoiding taking sides or not accepting responsibility,” he said.

Zuppi said that all Christians are called to play their part in bringing about peace. “War is an epidemic,” he said. “It’s all of us involved.”

“The Church and Christians believe in peace,” he said, “we are all called to be peace negotiators, even more so in the terrible storm of conflicts.”

Francis announced the existence of a peace mission last month during his return from Hungary, where he met with an envoy from the Russian Orthodox Church, which has staunchly supported the war. In the weeks that followed, Francis received Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky at the Vatican, who made it clear he would not accept territorial concessions and dismissed Francis’ reference to victims on both sides of the conflict, saying That there can be no equality between the victim and the perpetrator.

Nation World News Desk
Nation World News Desk
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