Speed Reads

give peace a chance

Pope Francis is involved in 'mission' to bring peace to Ukraine

Pope Francis on Sunday said the Vatican is engaged in a "not yet public" mission to end the war in Ukraine and doing "all that is humanly possible" to return children taken from the country and moved to Russia.

Speaking to reporters, the pope revealed that during his recent three-day visit to Budapest, he discussed the matter with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban and Metropolitan Hilarion, the Russian Orthodox Church's representative in Budapest. "In these meetings, we did not just talk about Little Red Riding Hood," Francis said. "We spoke of all these things. Everyone is interested in the road to peace."

Francis said he also met with Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal on Thursday, and they talked about a "peace formula." The pope added that he believes "peace is always made by opening channels."

Russia invaded Ukraine in late February 2022, and at the time, Francis did not want to address Russia's aggression "in part because he hoped that keeping the Vatican's traditional neutrality could put him in a position to broker a cease-fire or peace," The New York Times' Jason Horowitz writes. He has since condemned Russia and compared its actions to massacres carried out by Joseph Stalin.

The 86-year-old pontiff also gave reporters an update on his health. In late March, he was hospitalized, with the Vatican saying it was due to a respiratory infection. Francis shared that he felt "a strong pain" at the end of a public audience, and while he "did not lose consciousness ... I had a high fever." Doctors determined he had an "acute and strong" pneumonia, the pope said, adding, "the body responded well to the treatment, thank God."