Blog | Ukraine, pressure on the Vatican continues but the Pope remains out of the chorus

The pressure of the Ukrainian government against the Vatican. The Ukrainian president Zelensky the Pope would like to go to Kyiv, possibly before the pontiff’s trip to Kazakhstan (which will take place on 13 September). Francesco has not decided. He would prefer a mission to both Kyiv and Moscow to encourage one peace negotiation. It’s a tug-of-war going on behind the scenes for months. Pope Francis is clear and clear in his solidarity with the Ukrainian people. He denounced the massacres and suffering inflicted by the Russian army on the Ukrainian people and sent his cardinals to bring humanitarian aid and express his closeness to the pain of this nation.

But the Argentine pontiff does not adhere to Zelensky’s political line. Francis, who urged the Russian patriarch not to be “Putin’s altar boy”, is equally determined not to be the “chaplain of the West”. He had it written in black on the desk on theRoman Observer. From the Vatican point of view Zelensky would like to enlist the pope under the banner of a narrative that sees only theUkraine as assaulted (which is quite true), Putin as a metaphysical demonic beast and the Russia as a state to be reduced to such a condition that it can never repeat a military initiative such as that of February 24 (Lloyd Austin, US Defense Minister, dixit).

It is the narrative that runs through the capitals of NATO and the European Union with strong marketing colors. Part of this narrative is the elimination of any analysis of the “before”, that is, of the geopolitical movements that have resulted in the current war, and any reflection on the effects that a total war fought close to the nuclear conflict.

Francesco does not share this approach. He is obviously out of the chorus. Just as out of the box are the large number of states that represent the majority of the planet’s population and do not intend to side with Russia or the West. Because they are not convinced by a narrative that represents one international tragedy like a western movie, in which the sheriff and his men have to exterminate the gang of bad guys.

The current war is a conflict between the West and Russia and must be evaluated as such. The “Little Red Riding Hood scheme” must be put aside – Francis explicitly said in June. It is useless to pretend that the Born did not expand in the decades following the end of the USSR, bringing the weight of the political-military bloc to the borders of Russia. It makes no sense to hide that Washington, at the time of George W. Bush – in the years of the delirium of omnipotence that led the US to believe it could occupy Afghanistan and Iraq at the same time – had thought of including Ukraine in the NATO system. It was blocked by the Germany by Angela Merkel, who still claims the rightness of her “no” today, and from France in 2008. However, the expansionist impulse continued. The West began “barking at the gates of Russia”, Francis recalls. We wanted to forget the realistic indication of Henry Kissinger, according to which Ukraine was to be a neutral zone between Russia and the West. With the result that, geopolitically, Russia has been “surrounded and humiliated”, as the historian Andrea Riccardi immediately pointed out.

The clarity of the debate in US political or military circles helps to break the spell of forgetfulness. “NATO has established itself in the space that belonged to the Soviet Union thirty years ago,” says dispassionately Elbridge Colby, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense during the Trump administration. All of this does not justify in the least the war inflicted by Moscow on the “tormented Ukraine”, to quote Francis. But the Vatican never loses the overall view of an event both from the historical point of view and from the geopolitical point of view.

The last phone call between Zelensky and Francis was followed by a tweet from the Ukrainian president, in which it was stated that “our people need the support of world spiritual leaders, who should convey to the world the truth about the horrendous actions committed by the aggressor in Ukraine “. It is a tweet that plastically represents the different banks on which they are located Pope francesco and Kyiv politics. The Vatican does not like being told the pontiff what he should do, just as it does not like the Ukrainian state authorities having televised censorship. Way of the cross of the Pope because he hoped for peace between Ukrainians and Russians.

Francis has already denounced the horrors of the Russian invasion several times. But his perspective goes beyond that. The pontiff does not agree with a policy aimed at “victory”, with indefinite contours, which is translating into a continuous escalation. The Vatican secretary of state, Cardinal Parolin, has made it clear several times that armed defense against an aggressor is legitimate, but he has also repeated that it must be “proportionate”. In other words it is irresponsible a strategy that leads to an uncontrollable spiral of increasingly dangerous military actions for the whole world.

It does not escape the Vatican that the Ukrainian sabotage actions on Russian territory (in time it will be understood whether the attack on the daughter of the all-Russian ideologue Dugin is part of it) seem almost to have the purpose of pushing Russia to a false step to directly involve NATO in the war. Already in the spring Zelensky tried to impose a no fly zone on the Ukrainian skies, implemented by NATO planes. Francis wants a serious attempt to be made to bring about a ceasefire. Zelensky reiterated that weapons can only be silenced if Russia completely withdraws from all the occupied Ukrainian territories (including the Crimea annexed in 2014 and which Ukrainian has never been for history, culture and tradition). The difficulties of a papal trip to Kyiv without an equal mission to Moscow are based on this deep geopolitical divergence. Putin on the other hand is convinced that, without a clear signal from Washington in favor of a negotiation, it makes little sense to deal with Zelensky.

In the end, Francesco will personally decide how and when to move. But the idea of ​​him that the time has come for a new world order, negotiated by everyone, remains unchanged.

Blog | Ukraine, pressure on the Vatican continues but the Pope remains out of the chorus – Il Fatto Quotidiano