The Vatican confirmed today that the Archbishop of Bologna, Cardinal Matteo Zuppi, will lead a peace mission to Ukraine.
“I can confirm that Pope Francis has entrusted Cardinal Matteo Zuppi, Archbishop of Bologna and President of the Italian Episcopal Conference, with the task of leading a mission, in agreement with the Secretary of State, which will contribute to easing tensions in the conflict of Ukraine, in the hope, never dismissed by the Holy Father, that this can open paths of peace,” papal spokesman Matteo Bruni said in a statement today.
According to Bruni, “the timing of this mission and its modalities are currently being studied.”
The Archbishop of Bologna has extensive experience in international mediations from his closeness to the Sant’Egidio Catholic community, with which he played roles in the peace processes in Mozambique in 1992 and later in the definitive disarmament of the Basque separatist group ETA.
The Holy See thus confirmed that Zuppi will go to Kiev, as the Italian media had raised this week, although for the moment it did not specify whether Claudio Gugerotti, prefect of the Department of Oriental Churches, will go to Moscow as part of the same negotiation.
Gugerotti, who since 2022 replaced the Argentine Leonardo Sandri in the Department of dialogue with the Churches of Eastern Europe, was already nuncio (Vatican ambassador) in Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan appointed by John Paul II, and later in Belarus and Ukraine by designation of Francis.
The Vatican’s search for a peace plan had been revealed by the Pontiff at the beginning of May upon returning from a three-day visit to Hungary, although it was kept “in reserve”.
Last week and as part of a European tour, Ukrainian President Volodimir Zelensky visited the Pope for a 40-minute meeting in which Kiev’s refusal to mediate that would sit Moscow at the same table was revealed, although it did not a peace plan that would build bridges separately was ruled out.
The Holy See will seek to help Ukraine in the restitution of children that kyiv denounces that they were taken by force to Russia, in what Francis himself defined as a “humanitarian” task.