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Inside the VaticanMay 18, 2023
The pope greets several Ukrainian men in suitsPope Francis exchanges gifts with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky during a private audience at the Vatican Feb. 8, 2020. (CNS photo/Gregorio Borgia, pool via Reuters)

President Volodymr Zelensky of Ukraine visited the Vatican on Saturday for a private meeting with Pope Francis. The Ukrainian president spent 40 minutes with the pope. Holding his hand to his heart, and speaking in French, Mr. Zelensky told the pope it was a “great honor” to meet him.

The pope has repeatedly expressed his desire to visit the war torn Ukraine but only with the proviso that he can also visit Russia. Dialogue with Russian President Vladimir Putin, despite the pope’s many attempts, has proved impossible.

“This meeting could prove instrumental indeed, if nothing else, to add to the pressure that Russia might feel to come to the table of negotiations to end this war.”

“Francis has made very clear that he’s open to conversing with both Zelensky and Putin,” Gerry says. “In fact, Francis didn’t have to send anybody to talk with Zelensky because there is a highway of communication all the time going on; whereas on the highway to Moscow, there is very little traffic.”

On “Inside the Vatican” this week, Ricardo da Silva, S.J., and Gerard O’Connell decode what this latest meeting between the pope and the Ukrainian president might mean for the Vatican’s mediation efforts to end Russia’s war on Ukraine, and how it might further Pope Francis’ secret mission for achieving peace.

“This meeting could prove instrumental indeed,” says Ricardo, “if nothing else, to add to the pressure that Russia might feel to come to the table of negotiations to end this war.”

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Links from the show

Pope Francis meets with Ukranian president Volodymyr Zelensky

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