Pope Francis may soon be joining the dozens of world leaders travelling to Kyiv to offer support and call for peace in the wake of Russia’s invasion.
Vatican Foreign Minister Archbishop Paul Gallagher told Italian broadcaster Rai1 on Friday evening the 85-year-old pontiff would discuss a visit to Ukraine’s capital with his staff after returning from Canada at the end of the month.
Asked if a papal mission to Ukraine could be on the cards as early as next month, Gallagher said: “It’s possible, I wouldn’t rule it out”.
The archbishop stressed, however, that everything would depend on the Pope’s health.
The pontiff, who has knee problems and has frequently been seen using a wheelchair in recent weeks, was forced to cancel a trip to Africa planned for early July but is still hoping his visit to Canada later this month can go ahead.
Pope Francis has been pleading for peace in Ukraine for months and has been invited to Kyiv by President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and the city’s mayor, the former world heavyweight boxing champion Vitali Klitschko.
“The Pope is convinced that if he could make a visit, it would have a positive effect,” Gallagher said, adding that Francis was also willing to travel to Moscow.
The Pope is scheduled to attend the Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions in the Kazakh capital Nur-Sultan in mid-September, where he will likely meet Patriarch Kirill of Moscow, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church.
The Pope has been hoping to engage with Kirill for some time, but the patriarch’s harsh rhetoric in support of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine made a meeting impossible.