Catholic Culture Overview
Catholic Culture Overview
Catholic World News

Confirmed: Pope sending Italian cardinal to Moscow, Kyiv as mediator

May 22, 2023

Pope Francis has chosen Cardinal Matteo Zuppi of Bologna to carry out a special peace mission, visiting Moscow and Kyiv, the Vatican has confirmed.

Matteo Bruni, the director of the Vatican press office, announced that Cardinal Zuppi’s mission aims for “an easing of tensions in the Ukraine conflict, in the hopes that this can initiate paths of peace.”

Late last week an influential Vatican-watching blog, Il Sismografo, reported that the Pope had asked Cardinal Zuppi to travel to Kyiv on a peace mission, while Archbishop Claudio Gugerotti, the prefect of the Dicastery for Eastern Churches, would travel to Moscow. The report was plausible, particularly because Archbishop Gugerotti is fluent in Russian and has served as papal nuncio in Ukraine. But a spokesman said that he “knows nothing” about the reported mission.

The report in Il Sismografo was accurate, however, insofar as it named Cardinal Zuppi. The Italian blog had also reported that top officials in both Russia and Ukraine had agreed to meet with the papal envoy.

On April 30, during a conversation with reporters who had accompanied him on his trip to Hungary, Pope Francis had disclosed that there was a “mission underway” to secure a ceasefire in Ukraine. He declined to provide details at that time.

Cardinal Zuppi, who is the president of the Italian bishops’ conference, is a natural choice for the diplomatic mission. He is a member of the Sant’Egidio community, the lay movement that has been involved in mediating conflicts around the world— particularly in Africa. He himself was the key negotiator in bringing about a peace agreement that ended a bloody civil war in Mozambique in 1992.

Cardinal Zuppi, who is 67, was ordained a priest in Rome in 1988, and an auxiliary bishop of Rome in 2012. He was appointed Archbishop of Bologna in 2015 by Pope Francis, who elevated him to the College of Cardinals in 2019. He is now the cardinal-priest of the basilica of Santa Maria in Trastevere, where he once served as pastor, and where the Sant’Egidio community congregates.


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