ON THE PAPAL AIRLINE (AP) — Pope Francis revealed Sunday that a secret peace “mission” is underway in Russia’s war in Ukraine, though he gave no details and said the Vatican was ready to help repatriate Ukrainian children. To Russia during the war.
“I’m ready to do anything,” Francis said during an airborne press conference en route home from Hungary. “There is a work going on that is not public; I will talk about it when it is public.
Francis did not elaborate when asked if he was talking about peace efforts during his talks in Budapest this weekend with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán or a representative of the Russian Orthodox Church in Hungary.
Deportation of Ukrainian children There has been concern since Russia invaded Ukraine last year. Francis said the Holy See had already helped mediate some prisoner exchanges and would do “everything humanly possible” to reunite families.
“All human gestures help. Gestures of cruelty do not,” Francis said.
The International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant in March He accused Russian President Vladimir Putin and Russia’s Children’s Commissioner of war crimes for abducting children from Ukraine. Russia has denied any wrongdoing, arguing that the move was made to protect the children.
Last week, Ukrainian Prime Minister Denis Shmyhal met Francis at the Vatican and asked him to help repatriate Ukrainian children. Taken following the Russian invasion.
“I asked His Holiness to help us return home, Ukrainians, Ukrainian children who were detained, arrested and criminally deported to Russia,” Schmihal told the Foreign Press Association after the audience.
Francis recalled that the Holy See facilitated some prisoner exchanges working through embassies and was open to Ukraine’s request to reunite Ukrainian children with their families.
The prisoner exchange “went well. I think this will go well too. It’s important,” he said of family reunification. “The Holy See is available to do it because it is the right thing to do,” he added. “We must do all that is humanly possible.” ___
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