Pope Francis to Vladimir Putin: A negotiated peace is better than an endless war — By: Catholic News Agency

Pope Francis prays during his Wednesday general audience in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican on April 24, 2024. / Credit: Vatican Media

ACI Prensa Staff, Apr 25, 2024 / 16:10 pm (CNA).

Asked during a new interview if he has any message for Vladimir Putin, the Russian president who instigated the war in Ukraine, Pope Francis stated that “a negotiated peace is better than an endless war.”

CBS News broadcast some excerpts April 24 from a new interview conducted by journalist Norah O’Donnell with Pope Francis at St. Martha House, the pontiff’s residence in the Vatican.

During the exchange, the full version of which will be released on May 19, the Holy Father reflected on world conflicts and especially on the suffering of children during wars.

O’Donnell asked the Holy Father if he had any message for Vladimir Putin regarding Ukraine, to which the pontiff replied: “Please, countries at war, all of them… Stop the war. Seek to negotiate. Seek peace. A negotiated peace is better than an endless war,” he said.

Regarding the children who are suffering the consequences of the war in Gaza, Pope Francis said that “every afternoon at 7 p.m. I call the parish in Gaza. There are about 600 people there, and they tell me what’s happening. It’s very hard. Very, very hard. And food comes in, but they have to struggle to get it. It’s very hard,” he lamented. The pope also assured that he prays a lot for peace to be achieved.

The pontiff also asked people to think about the children of Ukraine, who due to the war “forget how to smile,” which he described as “very serious.”

In the interview, Pope Francis also talked about climate change and said that those who deny it do so “because they don’t understand it or for what benefits them,” and stressed that “climate change exists.”

Regarding those who don’t see a place for themselves in the Catholic Church anymore, the Holy Father responded that in the Church “there is always a place,” noting that “the Church is very big. It’s more than a church building … you shouldn’t flee from it.”

Pope Francis’ controversial ‘white flag’ statements

When referring to the conflict in Ukraine during an interview released in March by the Swiss radio station RSI, Pope Francis said: “I think that the strongest one is the one who looks at the situation, thinks about the people, and has the courage of the white flag, and negotiates.”

The words sparked some controversy, as they were interpreted as a call for Ukraine’s surrender to Russia and had to be clarified by the spokesman for the Holy See’s Press Office, Matteo Bruni.

The Vatican spokesman clarified that the Holy Father supported “a cessation of hostilities and a truce achieved with the courage to negotiate,” rather than Ukraine’s outright surrender.

Bruni also pointed out that it was the journalist interviewing the pontiff who had used the term “white flag” when asking the question.

This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.

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