(RoyalPatriot.com )- Pope Francis last week warned that war in Ukraine would be “madness” and expressed his hope that tensions between Ukraine and Russia could be de-escalated through multi-lateral dialogue.
In his general audience address on Wednesday, the pope expressed his thanks to those who participated in his January 26 international day of prayer for peace in Ukraine. He urged his audience to continue to pray that “the tensions and threats of war can be overcome,” adding “War is madness.”
On Tuesday, the leader of Ukraine’s Eastern-rite Catholics announced that he invited Pope Francis to visit, saying such a gesture would help bring peace at a time of tension.
While most Ukrainians follow the Eastern Orthodox church, the country also has its own Catholic Church, which is similar to Orthodox worship but also proclaims loyalty to the Vicar of Rome.
Speaking to reporters via video conference from Kyiv, Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk said there was no need to wait for ideal conditions for the pope to visit, adding such a visit could take place even in the current climate.
Archbishop Shevchuck, who has asked the pope several times to visit Ukraine, said he remains hopeful that such a visit now “would be a very strong gesture for all of humanity.” He said there was a consensus among Ukrainian of all faiths that such a visit from “the most important moral authority in the world” would be a gesture of peace.
However, a papal visit to Ukraine could create diplomatic complications for the Vatican since Pope Francis has been trying to improve relations with the Russian Orthodox Church. Since the Orthodox Church in Russia has close ties to the Kremlin, they would likely object to a papal visit to Ukraine.