Pope Francis meets with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy at the Studio of Paul VI Hall on May 13, 2023 in Vatican City, Vatican.
Vatican Pool | Getty Images News | Getty Images
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy had private talks with Pope Francis at the Vatican on Saturday, later saying he sought support for his peace plan from the pontiff, who in the past has offered to try to help end the war launched by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine a year ago.
Zelenskyy held his hand over his heart and said it was a “great honor” to meet with the pope. Francis, using a cane for his knee problem, came to greet the Ukrainian president before ushering him into a papal studio near the Vatican’s audience hall. “Thank you for your visit,″ Francis said, as their 40-minute-long meeting began.
In a tweet after the papal audience, Zelenskyy expressed gratitude to Francis for “his personal attention to the tragedy of millions of Ukrainians.” He said he spoke with the pontiff “about the tens of thousands of deported (Ukrainian) children. We must make every effort to return them home.”
Last month, Ukraine’s prime minister, Denys Shmyhal, asked the pope to help get the children returned from Russia to Ukraine. But the Vatican’s written statement after Saturday’s talks made no mention of the request for help for the children.
Instead, the Vatican said the two men spoke about Ukraine’s “humanitarian and political situation provoked by the war going on.″
“The pope assured his constant prayer, paid witness to by his many public appeals and by his continued invoking of the Lord for peace, since February of last year,″ the Vatican said, a reference to the invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24, 2022, by Russia’s military.
“Both agreed on the need to continue humanitarian efforts” to help the population, the Holy See’s statement added. “The pope underlined in particular the urgent need for ‘humanitarian gestures’ toward the most fragile persons, innocent victims of the conflict,” the statement said.
Zelenskyy also said that he asked the pope to condemn Russian “crimes in Ukraine” because “there can be no equality between the victim and the aggressor.” And he said he asked Francis to come aboard Ukraine’s peace plan.
“I also talked about our Peace Formula as the only effective algorithm for achieving a just peace,″ Zelenskyy said. Later, in an interview on Italian state TV, the Ukrainian leader said the pope “knows my position. The war is in Ukraine, that is why it has to be Ukraine’s plan” to bring peace.
Zelenskyy’s 10-point plan would establish a special tribunal to prosecute Russian war crimes. It would also create a European-Atlantic security architecture with guarantees for Ukraine, restore Ukraine’s damaged power infrastructure and ensure safety around Europe’s largest nuclear power plant at Zaporizhzhia.
Earlier in the day, Zelenskyy received from Italian officials pledges of both open-ended military and financial support as well as stronger backing for Ukraine’s cherished aim to join the European Union.
“The message is clear and simple,” Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni said, flanked by Zelenskyy as the two briefed reporters after their meeting at her office, which lasted more than an hour. “The future of Ukraine is a future of peace and freedom. And it’s the future of Europe, a future of peace and freedom, for which there are no other possible solutions.″
Italian Premier Giorgia Meloni (R), flanked by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, speaks during a joint press conference following their meeting at Chigi Palace government office in Rome, Italy, on May 13, 2023. Zelenskyy, who also met Italian President Sergio Mattarella, is a one-day trip in Rome, including an audience with Pope Francis at the Vatican.
Anadolu Agency | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images
Meloni also renewed her pledge to champion Ukraine’s EU ambitions, saying Ukraine was moving ahead with required reforms despite the war.
The premier, who staunchly supports military aid for Ukraine, said Italy would back the country “360 degrees for all the time necessary and beyond.”
Zelenskyy began his official meetings by calling on Italian President Sergio Mattarella at the presidential Quirinale Palace. “We are fully at your side,″ Mattarella told Zelenskyy as he welcomed him. Later, after their meeting, presidential palace sources said Mattarella assured his guest that Italy would continue to support Ukraine militarily and financially, as well as with reconstruction and humanitarian aid, in both the short and long term.
Since the war began, Italy has contributed about 1 billion euros ($1.1 billion) in military and financial aid, as well as humanitarian assistance.
Zelenskyy is believed to be heading to Berlin next for what would be his first visit to Germany since the war began. The exact schedule was not publicly announced because of security concerns.
At the end of April, flying back to Rome from a trip to Hungary, Francis told reporters on the plane that the Vatican was involved in a behind-the-scene peace mission but gave no details. Neither Russia nor Ukraine has confirmed such an initiative.
He has said he would like to go to Kyiv, the Ukrainian capital, if such a visit could be coupled with one to Moscow, in hopes a papal pilgrimage could further the cause of peace.
The German government, meanwhile, said it was providing Ukraine with additional military aid worth more than 2.7 billion euros ($3 billion), including tanks, anti-aircraft systems and ammunition.
Defense Minister Boris Pistorius said Berlin wanted to show with the latest package of arms “that Germany is serious in its support” for Ukraine.
“Germany will provide all the help it can, as long as it takes,” he said.
In India,, educated housewives are in demand. So more girls stay in school.
Inside the Mosconi Cup and pool’s plan to be ‘bigger than darts’
'Good man with a good heart': Man stands guard at Lakeland intersection where teen died, vows to maintain presence
Nigel Farage’s girlfriend Laure Ferrari, 44, wears her arm in a sling after a surfing accident as she joins the I’m A Celebrity star’s loved ones to greet evictee Marvin Humes
Here’s where to invest $250,000 for the next 5 years
Moment burned volcano survivors plead for help after getting caught in deadly eruption that claimed 11 lives and left 12 others missing
Introducing SELF’s Diet Culture Detox Course!
Look: Sheikh Mohamed, Kamala Harris discuss bilateral relations,regional developments at COP28
Score a free footlong chocolate chip cookie at Subway in NYC on National Cookie Day
House could have articles of impeachment against Biden ready in first half of 2024
South Korea plunging deeper into sub export markets
Former NFL TE accidentally ‘devalued’ an important piece of Tom Brady memorabilia
The roots and depths of Israel’s Hamas intel failure
Jaylen Brown’s ejection adds drama, but Celtics beat Knicks: 8 takeaways
Ryan O’Neal Through the Years: The ‘Love Story’ Star’s Life in Photos
News20 hours ago
U.S. issues strongest criticism of Israel yet as civilian deaths in Gaza surge
News20 hours ago
Hunter Biden: Read the indictment against president’s son in full
Investing19 hours ago
Here are Friday’s biggest analyst calls: Apple, Tesla, Boeing, First Solar, Qorvo, Exxon, Meta, O’Reilly & more
News23 hours ago
GOP’s Brutal Math: Trump Could Secure Nomination Before Conviction
Auto16 hours ago
The Tesla Cybertruck Has Strong Sales Potential, But Only If US Buyers Step Up
Travel20 hours ago
Local Vibes Come to a Regenerated Area of Aruba
News23 hours ago
Taiwan says Chinese balloon spotted over Taiwan Strait ahead of crucial election
Travel22 hours ago
Fiji Airways partners with JetBlue