The pope’s remarks come hours after Moscow announced that its forces had advanced in the city of Bakhmut on the front line.
Pope Francis said the Vatican is participating in a peace mission to try to end the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, declining to elaborate.
“I am ready to do whatever needs to be done. There is a task in progress now but it is not yet public,” the pope told reporters on Sunday during the journey home after a three-day visit to Hungary.
I think peace is always made by opening channels. You can never make peace through lockdown… It’s not easy.”
The pope added that he had spoken about the situation in Ukraine with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban and with Archbishop Hilarion, the bishop who represents the Russian Orthodox Church in Budapest.
“In these meetings, we didn’t just talk about Little Red Riding Hood. We talked about all these things. Everyone is interested in the path to peace.
Since Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022, Pope Francis has pleaded for peace practically on a weekly basis, repeatedly expressing his desire to act as a mediator between Kiev and Moscow. His bid has so far failed to make any headway.
Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal met the Pope at the Vatican on Thursday and said he discussed a “peace formula” put forward by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. He said he had also invited the Pope to visit Kiev.
Pope Francis, 86, had previously said he wanted to visit Kiev as well as Moscow on a peace mission.
Four other neighborhoods in Bakhmut
The pope’s announcement comes hours after Moscow claimed its forces had captured four more urban neighborhoods in the front-line Ukrainian city of Bakhmut.
The Russian Defense Ministry said that units of its airborne forces are besieging Ukrainian forces on the northern and southern outskirts of the city.
Ukraine did not immediately respond to the allegations.
Russian forces have been trying for months to take control of Bakhmut, a transportation and logistics hub in Ukraine’s Donetsk Province, which is part of the largely Russian-speaking industrial Donbass region.
Tens of thousands have been killed, millions uprooted and entire cities flattened during the war in Ukraine.
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