Will Pope Francis Meet Ukraine’s President Zelenskyy This Weekend?
By Hannah Brockhaus
Pope Francis may meet the president of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, this weekend during a visit to Rome, media reports say.
The meeting would be the first in-person encounter between the two since Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.
Italian media reports also say Zelenskyy will meet Italy’s President Sergio Mattarella and Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni on May 13.
Reuters, citing diplomatic sources, said the pope and Zelenskyy are expected to meet in the Vatican on Saturday. Italian news agency ANSA was the first to report on Zelenskyy’s visit to Rome.
The Vatican has not confirmed Pope Francis and Zelenskyy will meet and Ukraine, according to protocol, does not share the president’s travels for security reasons.
Both the Vatican and Ukraine’s government have not issued any official statements about the reported trip and meetings.
The Ukrainian president is scheduled to appear live on one of Italy’s state television channels, Rai1, during a special edition of the program “Porta a Porta” on Saturday evening, the broadcaster announced Friday.
Pope Francis has been frank about his openness to helping broker peace between Russia and Ukraine.
On his return flight from Budapest April 30, he also said the Holy See was involved in a secret mission to bring peace to the warring countries.
Pope Francis and Zelenskyy spoke several times over the phone last year.
In August 2022, Zelenskyy wrote in a tweet that he had spoken with Francis and briefed him on Russia’s “horrible crimes” and aggression toward Ukraine.
Andrii Yurash, Ukraine’s ambassador to the Holy See, reported that it was the third time that Pope Francis had spoken with Zelenskyy since the end of February 2022.
Pope Francis met Zelenskyy, who was elected president of Ukraine in 2019, with his wife, Olena Zelenska, in a formal audience in the beginning of 2020.