A series of meetings and moments of prayer marked Pope Francis’s special peace two-day visit to Ukraine.
Cardinal Matteo Zuppi, president of the Italian Episcopal Conference, concluded his mission on Tuesday, May 6, following an intense schedule of meetings with civil and religious authorities, and time dedicated to prayer and reflection in a country devastated by 15 months of war triggered by the Russian invasion on 24 February 2022. He was accompanied by an Official of the Vatican's Secretariat of State.
Tuesday morning began with a prayer visit for Cardinal Zuppi to St. Sophia Cathedral in Kyiv followed by a meeting between the papal envoy and President Volodymyr Zelensky, and with other political representatives.
At the conclusion of the mission on the evening of Tuesday, 6 June, a Holy See Press Office statement said "The results of these talks, like those with religious representatives as well as the direct experience of the atrocious suffering of the Ukrainian people as a result of the ongoing war, will be brought to the Holy Father's attention."
The mission, the statement continued, "will undoubtedly be useful to assess the next steps to be taken both on a humanitarian level and in the search for paths to a just and lasting peace."
Cardinal Zuppi undertook the mission aiming “to achieve a just peace and support gestures of humanity that will help ease tensions”, as stated by a Holy See press communiqué on the eve of his departure for Kyiv.
A visit to the town of Bucha on Monday, June 5, represented a deeply moving moment for the Cardinal as he prayed before the graves of dozens of civilians who had been killed by Russian troops during their withdrawal from the capital in March 2022. Many of them had been tortured and buried in mass graves.
Also on Monday, June 5, Cardinal Zuppi engaged in talks with Dmytro Lubinets, the Ukrainian Parliamentary Commissioner for human rights, to discuss the issue of Ukrainian children in Russian-occupied territories and the situation of prisoners, including civilians.
A meeting with representatives of the Council of Churches and Religious Organizations on Monday marked another important meeting for the Pope’s special envoy.