In a prayer announcement for Ukraine on Sunday, Pope Francis called for dialogue instead of weapons as Russia massed tension thousands of troops near its border with the country.
Francis called for international dialogue to defuse the crisis in his traditional blessing Sunday.
In his remarks, the Pope did not specifically mention Russia, but he seemed clear when referring back as well during St Peter’s Square’s Mass celebrating bishops and other church officials who work with them.
The pope prayed for Ukraine, and all its churches. He expressed hope that tensions would be resolved through serious international dialogue instead of arms being wielded by any one group or country in the country’s future conflicts with other nations over religion-based issues like it has seen recently after violence broke out.
Because of the threat of alienating the Russian Orthodox Church, the Vatican has been loath to criticize Russia’s Ukraine policy.
Just last week, Pope Francis announced that he is looking forward to meeting with the head of Russia’s Orthodox Church in the coming months. It was just one year ago when Patriarch Kirill met him for their historic 2016 encounter.
In an interview following his trip to Greece and Cyprus, Pope Francis said that he planned on meeting next week with the Russian church’s foreign ambassador “to agree on a possible meeting” between him selves. The pontiff noted how Kirill is due abroad soon but added it would be fine if diplomatic protocol prevented such trips right now – saying ‘I’m ready even though there are no signs yet’.