Vatican: ‘Nato barking at Russia’s door’ could have ‘facilitated’ invasion of Ukraine, Pope says

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Pope says ‘NATO barking at Russia’s door’ could have ‘facilitated’ invasion of Ukraine

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After his criticism of the Russian attack on Ukraine, Pope Francis now also expresses his thoughts on the role of NATO. He is trying to understand Russia’s behavior, he said. Francis also reported on the videoconference with Russian Orthodox Patriarch Cyril.

PPope Francis spoke to Russian Orthodox Patriarch Cyril about the war in Ukraine in March. The first half of the 40-minute videoconference consisted of Kirill reading out all the rationales for the war on a piece of paper, Francis told Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera.

“I listened to him and I said to him: I do not understand all this. Brother, we are not clerics of the State. We cannot speak the language of politics, but that of Jesus. (. ..) That is why we must find ways to peace and the shooting must stop.” He added that Kirill cannot become “Putin’s sidekick”. The pope canceled a meeting with the leader of the Russian Orthodox Church because they both thought it would look “ambiguous”.

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PSKOV, RUSSIA - SEPTEMBER 11 (RUSSIA OUT): Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) and Orthodox Patriarch Kirill (R) attend the opening ceremony of the monument to Prince Alexander Nevsky and his guard at the supposed location of 1224 Battle on Ice, also known as the Battle of Peipus (Chudskoye) Lake, on September 11, 2021, in the village of Samolva outside Pskov, Russia.  Russians mark the 800th anniversary of Alexander Nevsky's birthday this year.  (Photo by Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images)

Defender of Christianity?

Pope Francis reiterated his offer in March to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow. So far he has not received a response. “We keep pushing, although I’m afraid Putin can’t and won’t have this meeting right now,” the 85-year-old said. Francis initially ruled out a trip to Kyiv in the interview, as Politico reported: “I have to go to Moscow first, first I have to meet Putin.”

Pope Francis fears NATO provoked Russian invasion of Ukraine

Pope Francis fears NATO provoked Russian invasion of Ukraine

Those: dpa / Andrew Medichini

Pope Francis has repeatedly denounced the arms industry and announced increases in defense spending in the West in recent weeks. However, he also defended the right of Ukrainians to protect their territory from Russian invasion, in accordance with Catholic social teaching. He told the newspaper he felt too distant to assess the morale of Ukrainian forces in the west.

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But he also tries to understand why Russia reacted the way it reacted. He was quoted as saying that “NATO’s barking at Russia’s door” may have led to “an anger that I don’t know if you can say was provoked, but maybe be relieved”.

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