December 7, 2023

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

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

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

According to Yurash, the Pope said: “I am very close to Ukraine and I want to express this closeness that I thought about my visit to Ukraine.”

Recently, the Vatican Secretary of State, Archbishop Paul Gallagher, he said the pontiff would receive Ukraine’s 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 learn things better,” Gallagher said in late July.

According to Gallagher, the visit will take place by train, either from Poland or Romania. Francis has repeatedly reiterated his desire to go to Ukraine, but has also said he would first like to travel to Russia to meet with President Vladimir Putin.

The Latin Archbishop of Lviv, Ukraine, he saidHowever, it would be a “disaster” for Pope Francis to visit Russia before going to Ukraine, and if that happens, Ukrainian borders may even be closed to the Pope.

“Not only the Greek Catholic faithful, but we also do not agree with all the gestures of the Holy Father towards Russia. but maybe we don’t understand his intentions and politics well,” said Archbishop Mieczysław Mokrzycki, who leads Ukraine’s Latin Rite community of about 1.5 million.

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

In a July interview with the Jesuits America magazine, Archbishop Gallagher said the Pope “wants and feels he must go to Ukraine.”

“I think the main priority of the Pope right now is to make the visit to Ukraine, to meet with the Ukrainian authorities, to meet with the Ukrainian people and with the Ukrainian Catholic Church,” he said.

Last Friday, Francis held an audience with Metropolitan Antonij 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 Cyril and Francis in September in Kazakhstan.

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

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