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Pope Francis’ Peace Plan for Ukraine

So far, Pope Francis’ plea is the most authoritative voice speaking in favor of peace, establishing a minimal basis for the beginning of a possible negotiation.

Pope Francis spoke again about the war in Ukraine in one of his Angelus at St. Peter’s Square, in the Vatican. Addressing both leaders of the two warring sides, Vladimir Putin and Volodymyr Zelensky, he outlined a possible peace plan, or at least some points, to begin a negotiation.

The pontiff’s appeal stems, on the one hand, from the growing concern that the ongoing war could lead to a nuclear escalation of incalculable consequences and, at the same time, from the urgency of ending the suffering of the Ukrainian civilian population.

“…I renew my appeal for an immediate ceasefire. Let the weapons fall silent and let the conditions be sought to begin negotiations capable of leading to solutions not imposed by force, but agreed upon, just and stable…founded on respect for the sacrosanct value of human life, as well as the sovereignty and territorial integrity of each country, and the rights of minorities and legitimate concerns,” the Pope said in his message. 

In fact, Francis criticized the legitimacy of the annexations of territories carried out by Moscow through so-called referendums in zones occupied by the Russians. By demanding respect for the territorial integrity, the Holy See aligns itself with the position of the international community that has denied the validity of the referendums called by Putin. 

Furthermore, Francis asked at the Angelus both presidents to halt the violence and be open to discuss peace. “My appeal is addressed above all to the President of the Russian Federation, begging him to stop, also for love of his people, this spiral of violence and death. On the other hand …I address an equally confident appeal to the President of Ukraine to be open to serious proposals for peace.”

So far, Pope Francis’ plea is the most authoritative voice speaking in favor of peace, establishing a minimal basis for the beginning of a possible negotiation. In general, if the Vatican and the pontiff himself have always condemned the invasion and shown grave concern for the civilians involved in the conflict, it is also true that the Holy See has not taken sides with one of the parties involved, always leaving a door open to exercise a mediating role. 

However, signs have appeared in recent weeks that the Vatican has expanded his position on the subject. For instance, upon returning from his trip to Kazakhstan, last September, speaking to journalists, Francis advocated the right to “defend oneself” which “is not only licit, but also an expression of love for one’s homeland.” 

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