Wednesday, March 29, 2023

    Pope Francis might make surprise visit to Ukraine

    Joe Biden’s unannounced trip to Kyiv sent a powerful signal to the whole world. For other Western leaders, Kyiv is now a symbolic place of strength in the context of the struggle between democracy and authoritarianism.

    Expert in international relations, Candidate of Political Sciences Bohdan Ferents spoke with Channel 24 on the issue, explaining that the U.S. president with his visit to Ukraine demonstrated the unity of the Western world in support of Ukraine.

    Ferents recalled that the leaders of Western nations have been actively visiting Ukraine since the spring of 2022. In 2022, Pope Francis also announced his willingness to visit Ukraine. Then he said that he would like to come to Kyiv to help end the war.

    “The Pope is not only a religious leader, but also the head of the Vatican State,” Ferents noted.

    The expert noted that the likelihood of the Pope’s visit to Ukraine seemed quite real, although the pontiff never proceeded with the idea. Ferents believes that there are two reasons explaining this.

    – The Pope’s health. According to the expert, the pontiff likely had to postpone the trip due to his illness.

    – Christian vision of resolving wars. Ferents recalled that sometimes the messages that came from the Vatican at the outset of the full-scale invasion were perceived really harshly in Ukraine.

    “For most of us, such statements are incomprehensible because we evaluate the Pope as a political, not a Christian leader,” said the Candidate of Political Sciences.

    Ferents believes that, sooner or later, the Pope will visit Ukraine. U.S. President Joe Biden’s visit to Kyiv may play a role to this end. If the pontiff comes to Ukraine, this will be a very significant move.

    “After all, Pope Francis is a moral authority for billions of Catholics across the world. They all follow the pontiff in a certain way and listen to his statements,” said the expert.

    Ferents emphasized that it is important for the Pope to visit Kyiv or at least Lviv.

    “This would send a powerful signal at least for Latin America, where many nations are still not completely immersed in the context of the Russo-Ukrainian war, not being willing to oppose Russian aggression and support Ukraine 100%. For example, this is about Brazil,” the expert noted.

    He suggested that the pontiff’s visit to Ukraine could help change public attitudes in many Catholic countries.

    At the same time, Ferents is convinced that, if the Pope visited Ukraine, it would have no effect on the Russians. First of all, this is explained by the fact that the authority of the pontiff in Russia is not too high since it is an Orthodox country.

    The expert said that shortly after taking office at the helm of the Catholic Church, Francis had a sincere desire to establish a dialogue with the Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church, Kirill, and talk about the values of Christians.