The Pope and Zelensky, a forty-minute face-to-face: “Humanity gestures are urgently needed”

VATICAN CITY. Pope Francis and Volodymyr Zelensky meet in the Vatican. The dialogue takes place from 4.10 pm in the small room adjacent to the «Aula Paolo VI», and lasts about 40 minutes. The topics they address are the “humanitarian and political situation in Ukraine caused by the ongoing war”, reports the Holy See.

The entrance to the Oltretevere of the procession of cars takes place from the “Arco delle Campane”. Waiting for the Ukrainian President – in a military sweatshirt with the trident symbol on his forearm – is Monsignor Leonardo Sapienza, regent of the Prefecture of the Papal Household. The Ukrainian ambador to the Holy See Andrii Yurash also arrives.

The Pontiff, leaning on his cane, welcomes Zelensky, thanking him “for this visit” as he shakes his hand. She replied (in English), with her hand on her heart and bowing her head: «It is a great honour».

With them only the interpreter: the Ukrainian Franciscan Friar Marek Viktor Gongalo. When they sit down at the table for the interview, Zelensky has two written sheets in front of him.

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A Vatican note reports that “the topics of the conversation refer to the humanitarian and political situation in Ukraine caused by the ongoing war”. The Bishop of Rome “ured him of his constant prayers, witnessed by his many public appeals and by his continuous invocation to the Lord for peace, since February of last year”. Both agree “on the need to continue humanitarian efforts to support the population. The Pope underlined in particular the urgent need for “gestures of humanity” towards the most fragile people, innocent victims of the conflict”.

Then Jorge Mario Bergoglio gives the President of Ukraine a small sculpture representing an olive branch, a symbol of peace. Zelensky reciprocates with an icon of the Madonna painted on the remains of a bulletproof vest.

After the private conversation with Francis, the Ukrainian President talks with the Secretary for Relations with States, Monsignor Paul Richard Gallagher, and not with the Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, because he is in Portugal on the occasion of the feast of Our Lady of Fatima.

Once the face-to-face meetings are over, Zelensky leaves the Holy See. He gets into the car and is escorted along the way out of St. Peter’s Square. The next engagement of the Kiev leader is scheduled for 18.30 on live television at Porta a Porta on Rai 1.

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