Ukraine. Gallagher: We need to keep the hope of dialogue alive

Tuesday, 19 July 2022, 23:22
In an interview to "America" magazine, the Vatican Secretary for Relations with States and International Organizations dwells on the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, urging the international community to dialogue so as to restore peace: “The Pope’s main priority at this moment - says Archbishop Gallagher - is to make the visit to Ukraine”

"A war of attrition" in which " it is incumbent upon the international community to keep the hope of dialogue, the hope of negotiation alive”: this is how Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, Secretary for Relations with States and International Organizations, characterizes the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. In an interview to America Jesuit magazine’s  Vatican correspondent, Gerard O’Connell, the Vatican prelate recalls his recent visit to Ukraine May:”What I think I learned was the resilience of the people their determination, their courage. But also I learned about the degree of suffering that is there”, highlighted  by “the great loss of life” and the and the fear that the war will continu

The the Holy See's position

For this reason, Archbishop Gallagher underlines the role of the Holy See in calling for negotiations and the "restoration of peace" “without ignoring the violence and the conflict”. He adds there has been “no explicit invitation” to the Holy See by Russia to mediate, though the two States have maintained contacts ”through the Apostolic Nuncio in Moscow”. Archbishop Gallagher remarks that the position of the Holy See “is appreciated” by Russia, but they haven’t gone a “step further” asking for a possible mediation, just as there was no explicit invitation for the Pope to go to Moscow.

Archbishop Gallagher goes on to recall the Holy See’s support to “the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine”, reiterating that: “It’s up to the Ukrainians to negotiate with others, with the Russians, obviously, in particular”. Based on this “principle”, he says, the Holy See "would not recognize a unilateral declaration of independence” for example of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions.

The Pope's visit to Ukraine

Regarding hopes for a papal visit to Kyiv in August, Archbishop Gallagher remarks  that the Pope “has made great progress in his mobility” which has been hindered by his knee problem, and, therefore, may want to start looking into this matter “seriously” in the next month, after his trip to Canada from  24-29 July.

In any case, he says, Pope Francis “wants to and  feels he should go to Ukraine”, even with no invitation from Moscow. “The two things are not linked”, the Vatican official concludes. “It might be a good thing if they were linked. But I think the Pope’s main priority at this moment is to make the visit to Ukraine, meet with the Ukrainian authorities, meet with the Ukrainian people and with the Ukrainian Catholic Church”.

In any case, Pope Francis "wants and feels he has to go to Ukraine", even though there is no invitation from Moscow. “The two things are not linked"- concludes the Vatican representative. "It could be a good thing if they were. But I believe that the Pope's main priority at the moment is to go to Ukraine and meet the local authorities, the people and the Catholic Church ”.


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