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Cardinal Matteo Zuppi, on a peace mission to Moscow on Pope Francis’ behalf, spoke with Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill of Moscow, right, and Russian Orthodox Metropolitan Anthony of Volokolamsk, head of external Church relations for the Moscow Patriarchate, left, during a meeting at the patriarch’s residence at the Danilov monastery in Moscow June 29.
Cardinal Matteo Zuppi, on a peace mission to Moscow on Pope Francis’ behalf, spoke with Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill of Moscow, right, and Russian Orthodox Metropolitan Anthony of Volokolamsk, head of external Church relations for the Moscow Patriarchate, left, during a meeting at the patriarch’s residence at the Danilov monastery in Moscow June 29.
Photo Credit: Courtesy of the Russian Orthodox Church, Department for External Church Relations

Our Churches must serve peace, Russian Orthodox leader tells cardinal

Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill of Moscow met June 29 with Cdl. Zuppi, Pope Francis’ envoy

VATICAN CITY — The Catholic and Russian Orthodox Churches should join efforts to promote peace before threats of a “major global armed conflict,” the head of the Russian Orthodox Church told Pope Francis’ envoy on a peace mission to Moscow.

Meeting June 29 with Cardinal Matteo Zuppi, sent by the pope on a two-part peace mission to Ukraine and Russia, Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill of Moscow said the Churches have a role in preventing “the negative development of political conditions” and working for peace and justice, according to a press release from the Russian Orthodox Church.

Patriarch Kirill has repeatedly and publicly justified and supported Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

“At the time when great problems have emerged in the relations between Russia and the West, when we encounter both a great tension in the sphere of political relations and real threats of the emergence of a major global armed conflict, it is very important that all the forces interested in preservation of peace and justice should unite to prevent such feasible pace of events,” Patriarch Kirill told the cardinal, according to the statement.

Expressing the need to strengthen relations between the Catholic and Russian Orthodox Churches, the patriarch said, “It is very important that in this very difficult time Christian communities in East and West should participate in the process of reconciliation,” the statement said.

Cardinal Zuppi reportedly stressed the need for increased dialogue between Churches during times of conflict “to understand what the Lord asks us to do.”

Cardinal Zuppi told the Italian state broadcasters RAI July 3 that “humanitarian aspects,” particularly revolving around the children affected by the war, were the focus of his meetings with Russian officials and the head of the Russian Orthodox Church in Moscow June 28-30.

In a statement June 30 the Vatican said the two discussed “humanitarian initiatives that could facilitate a peaceful solution” to the war in Ukraine and that Cardinal Zuppi conveyed the pope’s greeting to the patriarch.

Pope Francis last met with Patriarch Kirill via a video call in March 2022 shortly after the war in Ukraine broke out. The pope urged the patriarch not to use “the language of politics, but the language of Jesus.” The two Church leaders had been expected to meet in person during an interreligious gathering in Kazakhstan in September 2022, but the patriarch canceled his trip weeks before the meeting.

During his trip to Moscow, Cardinal Zuppi also met with Yury Ushakov, a Kremlin foreign policy adviser. Speaking to reporters the following day, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said the “the meeting yielded no specific agreement, and the dialogue may continue if needed,” according to TASS, the Russian state news agency.

Archbishop Paolo Pezzi of Moscow said the meeting “went positively” and that the cardinal and the adviser primarily discussed issues related to refugees, TASS reported.

The archbishop had said humanitarian issues also would be the subject of the cardinal’s June 29 meeting with Maria Lvova-Belova, Russia’s commissioner for children’s rights, who has been accused by the International Criminal Court of aiding the abduction and deportation of Ukrainian children to Russia.

The Vatican said the humanitarian aspect of the cardinal’s trip was “strongly underscored” during those meetings as was the need “to achieve the much-desired peace.”

U.S. to provide Ukraine cluster munitions opposed by the Church

President Joe Biden defended what he called a “very difficult decision” to provide cluster munitions to Ukraine amid Russia’s invasion of that country, weapons the Holy See opposes.

In an interview on CNN’s “Fareed Zakaria GPS” that aired July 9, Biden said Ukraine needs the weapons to fend off Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion, and that he discussed his decision both with allies and with congressional lawmakers.

Cluster munitions are air-dropped or ground-launched explosives that contain smaller submunitions, which increase the blast radius and the potential casualties and damage to physical structures.

Despite Ukraine’s just cause to defend itself, one Catholic expert said, the Church opposes cluster munitions.

Mary Ellen O’Connell, a professor at Notre Dame Law School who specializes in international law and conflict resolution, said that “the Catholic Church is in full support of the total ban on cluster munitions” due to its effects on civilians, including long after the conflict. “Cluster munitions cannot discriminate between civilians and fighters,” O’Connell said. “Unexploded bomblets may kill civilians weeks, months or years after a battle.”

She suggested the U.S. and its allies should dig deeper into their own stockpiles of artillery shells, because an “unlawful weapon is never permissible to use because of military necessity.”


U.S. to provide Ukraine cluster munitions that the Church calls ‘inhumane’

WASHINGTON (OSV News) — President Joe Biden defended what he called a “very difficult decision” to provide cluster munitions to Ukraine amid Russia’s invasion of that country, weapons the Holy See opposes.

In an interview on CNN’s “Fareed Zakaria GPS” that aired July 9, Biden said Ukraine needs the weapons to fend off Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion, and that he discussed his decision both with allies and with congressional lawmakers.

Cluster munitions are air-dropped or ground-launched explosives that contain smaller submunitions, which increase the blast radius and the potential casualties and damage to physical structures.

The Holy See has condemned the use of cluster munitions, which Russia has used in Ukraine, including in attacks on civilians. The Holy See has called for universal adherence to the Convention on Cluster Munitions, a 2008 treaty signed by over 100 nations, which the Holy See at the time declared was necessary for the sake of the “protection of civilians during and after conflicts from the indiscriminate effects of this inhumane type of weapons.” The United States, Ukraine and Russia are among the countries that are not bound by the treaty.

Despite Ukraine’s just cause to defend itself, one Catholic expert said, the Church opposes cluster munitions themselves.

Mary Ellen O’Connell, a professor at Notre Dame Law School who specializes in international law and conflict resolution, said that “the Catholic Church is in full support of the total ban on cluster munitions” due to its effects on civilians, including long after the conflict.

“Cluster munitions cannot discriminate between civilians and fighters,” O’Connell said. “Unexploded bomblets may kill civilians weeks, months, or years after a battle.”

She suggested the U.S. and its allies should dig deeper into their own stockpiles of artillery shells, because an “unlawful weapon is never permissible to use because of military necessity.”

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Our Churches must serve peace Russian Orthodox leader tells cardinal 8797

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