By Courtney Mares
Cardinal Matteo Zuppi arrived in Kyiv on Monday to carry out the peace mission entrusted to him by Pope Francis.
The Vatican announced June 5 that Zuppi will spend two days in the Ukraine capital “to listen in depth to the Ukrainian authorities about possible ways to achieve a just peace and support humanitarian gestures that may help ease tensions.”
During the June 5–6 visit, Zuppi is expected to meet with Ukrainian Minister of Foreign Affairs Dmytro Kulebas, Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk, and possibly President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, although the Vatican did not release any details about the cardinal’s schedule.
Pope Francis asked the Italian cardinal last month to serve as a papal envoy to “initiate paths of peace” between Russia and Ukraine.
Zuppi, the archbishop of Bologna and president of the Italian bishops’ conference, has strong ties to the influential peace-building community Sant’Egidio.
Sant’Egidio is a Catholic lay association that has been involved in peace negotiations in many countries, including Mozambique, South Sudan, Congo, Burundi, and the Central African Republic.
The Vatican announced Zuppi’s role as papal peace envoy one week after Pope Francis met with Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy at the Vatican.
Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin has since clarified that Zuppi’s mission does not have mediation as its immediate goal.
“Kyiv would not be prepared at present for mediation in the strict sense of the term,” Parolin told journalists. “However, this mission is not for the immediate purpose of mediation but rather to create this climate and help move toward a peaceful solution.”