The possible meeting of the Pope and Kirill in Jerusalem will be his most difficult trip

This content was published on April 13, 2022 – 10:21

Cristina Cabrejas

Vatican City, April 13 (EFE).- As Vatican diplomacy and the Russian Orthodox Patriarchate work to close a meeting between Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill, which continues to justify the Russian invasion of Ukraine, supposedly in mid-June in Jerusalem, some wonder the real reasons for this meeting or even if it is timely.

Pope Francis announced during his return trip from Malta that a meeting with Kirill, the highest authority of the Russian Orthodox Church, was being arranged in the Middle East and later Catholic Church sources suggested that the possibility that the place is Jerusalem and after the possible visit of June 11 and 12 to Lebanon.

The Russian Church also confirmed this assumption that week when, in a television program, Metropolitan Hilarion, chairman of the Department of Foreign Affairs of the Patriarchate of Moscow, spoke about it, explaining that: “The Middle East is considered as one of the priority areas for this meeting”, but that “in the current complicated political situation, not only questions related to the content of the meeting between the pope and the patriarch, but also questions of security, transport and logistics require very careful elaboration”.


The meeting between the head of the Catholic Church and that of the Russian Orthodox Church, still on “neutral ground”, would be the second after the historic one in Cuba on February 12, 2016, and after two telephone conversations, one on the Syria and a few days ago about the war in Ukraine.

But the distances between the two are now almost insurmountable, with Francis condemning Russian aggression and Kirill inexorably siding with President Vladimir Putin and justifying war, Francis calling for an Easter truce at Palm Sunday Mass to end the war. “bloodshed” and Kirill who on the same day called on people to “embrace power” to “show solidarity and reject external and internal enemies”.

So, what is this meeting for, is it convenient for the pope?, they asked this Tuesday in an article in the newspaper “Il Foglio”. “But what should the two religious leaders talk about? Because after a month and a half of ‘sacrilegious’ and ‘inhuman’ war blessed by the Patriarch of Moscow, the question naturally arises,” they added.

While for the site specializing in Vatican information “El Sismografo”, “that Pope Francis is meeting Cyril today is not a continuation of the historic event in Havana. Everything has changed radically (…) This is why many believe that when meeting Jerusalem it is Kirill who is looking to gain some advantage, at least in terms of image.”

This is what the Vatican professor of geopolitics Piero Schiavazzi explains in an interview with EFE when he assures us that on this occasion it is the head of the Russian Orthodox Church who needs this meeting because he is “isolated from the Orthodox world and needs the pope”. .

But Schiavazzi assures that this meeting could be “a mortal embrace” for Francisco, but that “he cannot reject it” even if, he affirms, it will become “a dialogue of the deaf”.

“On the one hand, the pope must find Kirill not to stop on this path of ecumenism, of union with Christians, and this is a price to pay. But it will be an asymmetrical embrace, very dangerous because for the collective imagination it is Kirill who supports the war, he is the chaplain of the aggressors”, he argues. But also, adds this university professor, it is a “meeting essential and necessary if you want to go to kyiv”.


“It’s essential. The pope must go to kyiv, it’s something he can’t back down from, but he needs a gesture that weighs the same vis-à-vis Russia if he wants continue to offer itself as a mediator in this conflict,” explains Schiavazzi.

The professor assures that Francis will go to kyiv because public opinion sees how many authorities have already visited the capital and it is something “feasible” and the pope must be “in the place of martyrdom, as he has defined itself”.

For this reason, “the meeting with Kirill will balance this visit to kyiv” and “there will have to be two close trips so that” the same media power is maintained.

“The meeting with Kiril has a sacrosanct duty to do everything not to interrupt the ecumenical journey, but also a temporary convenience because he cannot go to kyiv and not meet the religious representative of Moscow”, underlines t- -he.


For Schiavazzi, the city of Jerusalem “will already be a message” since Francis has already indicated that kyiv, Odessa, Mariupol have become Jerusalem, “the places of Calvary” this Holy Week.

But in addition, Israel remains almost neutral in this war with its support for the Ukrainian President, Volodomir Zelensky, who is Jewish, while maintaining good relations with Russia due to the presence of many Russian Orthodox on its territory.

If the trip takes place, Pope Francis is expected to arrive by helicopter from Amman (Jordan) after traveling to Beirut (Lebanon), a country for which the Vatican has not yet confirmed a visit but has mentioned a hypothesis, and from which he will not be able to leave directly because they are countries considered as enemies. EFE

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