Father Caprio: “Pope with olive tree asks Zelensky to hold back war ardor”

The analysis of the meeting of the great expert of Russia

“The Pope, even just by giving Zelensky the olive branch, wanted to tell him to hold back the ardor of war”. Father Stefano Caprio, a great expert on Russia, where he was a missionary at the turn of the years between Yeltsin and Putin, professor at the Pontifical Oriental Institute, with Adnkronos he reflects on the face to face between the Ukrainian president and the Pope. There was no excess.”

Zelensky, at the end of the meeting, said he had asked the Pope to condemn Russia’s criminal acts. “This was the minimum – says Don Caprio -. Zelensky, rather, must be careful of political radicalism in Ukraine. A speech that also applies to Putin. Next year they have elections. In Ukraine, he would gladly elect one of the generals in Zelensky’s place. In that case there would be little to talk about.”

The Pope and Zelensky, as the Vatican underlined, have found common ground on the humanitarian commitment of the Holy See to bring home Ukrainian children deported to Russia. Peace remains an uphill road. “What mattered – says Father Caprio – was more the context: to accept Zelensky in the meeting with the Italians, which was already full of contents favorable to Ukraine, to launch this signal of peace and to show that the Pope supports Ukraine but who wants to keep everyone’s reasons in mind”.

Father Caprio underlines that “it is no coincidence that yesterday the Pope was seen with Meloni making a speech on the traditional family: Putin and Kirill would also have gone willingly. It will be a coincidence, but the day before the meeting with Zelensky”, the Pope he did “something Putin likes. In my opinion it is a way of saying: we are supporters of the battered Ukraine but we understand many of the reasons of the Russians”.

In any case, the issue of peace remains an uphill battle. “We are talking about territories in which war has been going on for years. What matters – underlines the great expert on Russia – is to stop using violence and weapons and seek dialogue, whatever it may be”. According to Father Caprio, the meeting between the Pope and Zelensky is “a ring in a set of approaches that want to push at least a ceasefire to start a dialogue. I think it’s no more than this. As soon as they stop shooting, you can plan the Pope’s trip to Moscow and Kiev. As long as they shoot, nothing gets done. The Pope is well aware that he must not take a position in terms of military tactics, but basically neither in the historical-territorial disputes between Russia and Ukraine. He must be fond of both of you and keep in touch with everyone.”

On the common ground on the humanitarian front, Father Stefano Caprio points out that “even after the Pope’s meeting with Kirill in Cuba there was a great commitment between Catholics and Orthodox for refugees. A large aid program for refugees , children, and the exchange of prisoners”.