Pope Francis meets with Ukrainian ambassador about possible trip to Kiev

ROME — Pope Francis met with Ukraine’s ambassador to the Holy See, Andrii Yurash, on Saturday morning to discuss a possible visit to Kiev.

The Vatican offered no further details at the meeting, but the diplomat said the trip could take place before the Pope’s trip to Kazakhstan, scheduled for September 13-15.

Ukraine has been waiting for the Pope for many years, especially since the beginning of the war, and “will be happy to greet him for his trip to Kazakhstan”, Yurash wrote on Twitter.

According to Yurash, the Pope said: “I am very close to Ukraine and want to express this solidarity after my visit to Ukraine.”

Recently, the Vatican’s Secretary of State, Archbishop Paul Gallagher, said the Pope was due to receive the Ukrainian ambassador in early August to talk about the trip.

“A possible visit could be in August or later in September or October. It will depend on the Pope, I also hope to know things better,” Gallagher said at the end of July.

According to Gallagher, the visit would be made by train, either from Poland or Romania. Francis has reiterated his desire to go to Ukraine on several occasions, but he also said he would first like to travel to Russia to meet President Vladimir Putin.

The Latin Archbishop of Lviv, Ukraine, saidhowever, it would be a “disaster” for Pope Francis to visit Russia before going to Ukraine, and if that happened, Ukraine’s borders could even be closed to the Pope.

“Not only the Greek Catholic faithful, but we too do not agree with all the gestures of the Holy Father towards Russia; but maybe we don’t quite understand his intentions and policies,” said Archbishop Mieczysław Mokrzycki, who heads the Latin Rite Community in Ukraine, numbering about 1.5 million.

“Let’s hope the Pope has good intentions and his actions will soon bring peace to Ukraine,” Mokrzycki said.

In a July interview with the Jesuit run America magazine, Archbishop Gallagher said the Pope “will and he thinks he should go to Ukraine”.

“I think the Pope’s main priority at the moment is to make the visit to Ukraine, meet the Ukrainian authorities, meet the Ukrainian people and the Ukrainian Catholic Church,” he said.

Last Friday, Francis had an audience with Metropolitan Antony of Volokolamsk, a representative of Patriarch Kirill, head of the Russian Orthodox Church and a close ally of Vladimir Putin, amid rumors of a possible meeting between Kirill and Francis in September in Kazakhstan.

Both leaders are expected to attend the VII Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions in the Kazakh capital Nur-Sultan, scheduled for September 13-15.

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