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Ambassador says pope will visit Ukraine before Kazakhstan trip

Pope is scheduled to visit Kazakhstan in September and will visit Ukraine on the same trip

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis plans to make his long-awaited visit to Ukraine before his trip to Kazakhstan in September, said Andrii Yurash, Ukraine’s ambassador to the Holy See.

In a series of tweets posted Aug. 6 after meeting with the pope, Yurash said the people of Ukraine “have been waiting for the pope” since the start of the war and will “be happy to greet him before his trip to Kazakhstan.”

“I am very close to Ukraine and want to express this closeness (through) my visit to Ukraine,” the pope said, according to the Ukrainian ambassador.

“Moments of communication with (the) Holy Father are always inspirational,” he said in a follow-up tweet. “Especially when there is a chance to discuss and promote subjects that are ‘on the table’ for a long time, like the pope’s visit to Ukraine.”

The pope expressed on several occasions his desire to visit not only Ukraine but also Russia to plead for an end to the conflict.

In an interview with Catholic News Service July 18, Yurash said that while Ukraine was ready for a papal visit, he doubted the pope would be able to to visit Moscow.

Yurash said the war has strained relations between the Catholic Church and the Russian Orthodox Church, which he said is more aligned with the “interests of the Russian state.”

Nevertheless, in an interview that aired in the United States July 11 on Univision, the Spanish-language network, Pope Francis confirmed that he will meet with Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill during his Sept. 13-15 visit to Kazakhstan.

Both the pope and the Russian patriarch will participate at the Congress of World and Traditional Religions in the capital city, Nur-Sultan.

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