Russian-Ukrainian war: why does the pope not go to the conflict zone?
Sexual abuse by members of the clergy. The lack of transparency in Vatican finances. The onslaught of conservatives who accuse him of being anti-capitalist and pro-communist and the pressure of progressives who want optional celibacy and female priesthood.
Pope Francis has enough challenges in his pontificate, but on the threshold of his tenth year he has been joined by a war in Europe with the Russian invasion of Ukraine before which there is no shortage of those who to consider that Jorge Bergoglio is not doing everything necessary to stop him.
Among those who question his role in the conflict are those who believe that Francis should go to Ukraine and establish himself in the archdiocese of Kiev and from there lead a peace movement that will place Vladimir Putin in the dilemma of to continue the bombardments or to stop them.
Pope Francis with Arturo Sosa Abascal, leader of the Jesuits. (AP)
Ultimately, they argue, John Pablo II He came to Argentina during the Falklands War and four years earlier – not personally, but through an emissary, Cardinal Antonio Samoré – he stopped an impending military confrontation between Argentina and Chile.
Strictly speaking, Francis dealt with the conflict between Russia and Ukraine long before the invasion began. Personally, he had discussed it with Putin during a visit he made to him in 2015, after taking over the Crimean peninsula.
And with the Russian Orthodox Patriarch Cyril in 2016 in Havana, during the first meeting of a pope and a leader of Russian Orthodoxy after the great Christian schism almost a thousand years ago, an appointment which resulted to a call for a peaceful solution to the dispute. .
The day before the invasion, Francis called for a day of fasting and prayer for peace on March 2.
At the same time as he denounces the war after the Sunday Angel Prayer and at the Wednesday General Audiences and although he has come to regard Russia’s call to arms as “diabolical”, there are those who reproach him for not using the word “invasion” and not to mention his name and surname the great leader of the military offensive, that is to say Putin.
But the Vatican never blows up all the bridges in the middle of a conflict. Always bet on a peaceful solution and reserves itself – in case it does not intervene – as an actor of last resort.
Moreover, he considers that it is not a matter of practicing verbal escalation to satisfy the toughest sectors, but of contributing effectively to overcoming litigation. On the other hand, according to Christian doctrine, does not criticize people, but attitudes.
Now, the fact that the Pope’s efforts to stop the invasion of Ukraine are not known does not mean that he is not doing them. It is a golden rule of any negotiation not to advertise it until an agreement is found. so as not to risk damaging it.
Nearby they say maintains frantic contactsbut – like so many other world leaders – he mostly stumbles over thePutin’s intransigencewhich saddens him.
In his case, Francisco has several additional complications. Unlike Argentina and Chile, which are two nations with a Catholic majority, Ukraine and Russia have an Orthodox majority and their ecclesiastical authorities do not ask for their intervention as the Argentine and Chilean episcopates did in 1978.
Not only that, Russian and Ukrainian Orthodoxy have been in conflict for a long time because the Moscow Patriarchate wants to dominate it.
Moreover, the Russian Orthodox Church has always been wary of Catholicism as it considers it to have proselytizing claims in Russia.
This prevented a traveling pope like John Paul II from visiting this country. And if François achieved a historic rapprochement with Kirill by meeting him, the tension intensified with the invasion of Ukraine because the Russian patriarch – a great ally of Putin – openly justified it.
In an unusual public reaction, the Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Parolincriticized these remarks for considering that “they do not help to understand and can further inflame tempers”.
Which confirms that Francisco’s reserved efforts are not yielding any results. Otherwise, Parolin would not have come to criticize Kirill as he did.
It is true that Juan XIII made a key effort to resolve the crisis between the United States and the Soviet Union over the installation of ramps for the launch of Russian missiles in Cuba, which 60 years ago brought the world to the brink of a Third World War. .
But at that time, a militant atheist regime existed in Russia, and the Russian Orthodox Church lacked strength.
We could then appeal to this saying which says: “There is no worse shine than that of the same stick”. Because, finally, there is also behind all this conflict an inter-Christian problem between Catholics and Orthodox which makes finding a solution even more difficult.
Interestingly, this is happening at a time of great rapprochement between Christians, Jews and Muslims.
In 1982, John Paul II paid a scheduled visit to Great Britain and not to show favoritism in the Malvinas war, he also came to Argentina when the conflict – which was not taking place on the continent – touched at its end. It cannot be compared to the current situation in Ukraine.
To claim that the pope is going to Ukraine without a minimum prior agreement in favor of peace, in addition to recklessness, would be quixotic.