Pope Francis participated in a Russian-Ukrainian prisoner swap, he said

Pope Francis participated in a Russian-Ukrainian prisoner swap, he said

According to Pope Francis, he took part in a prisoner exchange between Russia and Ukraine.

The pope said in a speech to Jesuits during his visit to Kazakhstan earlier this month that a Ukrainian military commander and President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s spiritual advisor approached him asking for assistance.

“This time, they sent me a list of almost 300 inmates. According to a transcript from Pope Francis that was made available by the Jesuit publication La Civiltà Cattolica on September 29th, “They begged me to do something to create an exchange.”

“I phoned the Russian ambassador right away to ask if anything could be done, whether a prisoner swap could be sped up.”

The pope did not say precisely when these discussions of a prisoner exchange took place. Six days before Zelenskyy declared that Ukraine and Russia had carried out a prisoner swap involving roughly 300 persons, he discussed the exchange in private with 19 Jesuits in Nur Sultan on September 15.

Zelenskyy said that the trade had been planned for a considerable amount of time. The repatriation of 215 Ukrainians, 55 Russians, and pro-Moscow Ukrainians was made possible by the prisoner exchange, for which U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres especially congratulated Turkey and Saudi Arabia. Since the start of the conflict, it was the biggest prisoner exchange.

Pope Francis mentioned his unsuccessful effort to contact Russian President Vladimir Putin during the invasion of Ukraine during his meeting with the Jesuits.

“I remember going to the Russian Embassy the day the conflict started,” he said. It was an extraordinary gesture; the pope never visits an embassy. Only when the ambassadors deliver their credentials and at their goodbye visit at the end of their mission does he personally welcome them. I informed the ambassador that, as long as he gave me a brief opportunity for conversation, I would want to talk with President Putin.

The pope emphasized that “from the first day of the war until yesterday, I spoke constantly about this conflict, referring to the suffering of Ukraine,” and later said that in his public pronouncements, he had called “the invasion of Ukraine an unacceptable, repugnant, senseless, barbaric, sacrilegious aggression.”

Additionally, Pope Francis stated his opinion that “foreign circumstances… contributed to inciting the conflict.”

“As I’ve previously indicated, a head of state came to me in December of last year to express his grave concern that NATO had barked at the Russian border without realizing that the Russians are imperial and worry about border instability. He expressed concern that it might start a war, and two months later, one did,” the pope remarked.

Priests who had previously worked as missionaries in Kyrgyzstan, Belarus, and Russia were among the Jesuits who met with Pope Francis in Kazakhstan.

Fr. The pope was informed about the pastoral work done by the Jesuits in Moscow, Kirov, St. Petersburg, Tomsk, and Siberia by Bogusaw Steczek, the superior of the Society of Jesus’ Russian Region.

Geographical, cultural, and religious barriers are what we are focusing on, according to Steczek. “Now, we beg your apostolic blessing to go on with bravery.”

»Pope Francis participated in a Russian-Ukrainian prisoner swap, he said«

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