Pope Francis has tasked a leading Italian cardinal with a mission in hope it can “ease tensions” in the Ukraine war and lead to a path of peace, the Vatican said.
In a brief written statement, Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said that Francis had entrusted the mission to Cardinal Matteo Zuppi, who is close to the pontiff.
He said the timetable and the mechanics of the mission “are currently under study”.
Just a week earlier, Francis held talks with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky at the Vatican.
At the end of April, flying back to Rome from a pilgrimage in Hungary, Francis indicated to reporters aboard the plane that the Vatican was involved in some kind of peace mission but declined to give details.
“I can confirm that Pope Francis has tasked Cardinal Matteo Zuppi, archbishop of Bologna and president of the Italian Bishops Conference, with conducting a mission, in agreement with the (Vatican) Secretariat of State, that would contribute to easing the tensions in the conflict in Ukraine, in the hope, never given up by the Holy Father, that this can launch paths of peace,” Mr Bruni said.
“The timings of such a mission, and its ways, are currently under study.”
Francis has repeatedly denounced the war, warned against a build-up of weapons in the conflict and prayed for the suffering Ukrainian people.
He generally has shied away, in his many comments on the war, from blaming Mr Putin.
The pontiff has said he would go to Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital, if the pilgrimage would help bring peace, but said that could happen only if he could also visit Moscow.