Pope Francis attended a Vatican screening of the 2022 documentary “Freedom on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom” on Feb. 24, 2023. / Vatican Media
Rome Newsroom, Apr 24, 2023 / 09:30 am (CNA).
Pope Francis will receive the prime minister of Ukraine, Denys Shmyhal, at the Vatican on Thursday morning.
The two last met at the Vatican in March 2021 amid clashes between Ukraine and Russia in the Donbas region. Shmyhal has been Ukraine’s prime minister since March 2020.
According to the pope’s schedule for April 27, he will receive the prime minister at 9 a.m.
Francis has been outspoken in his support for Ukraine since Russia’s full-scale invasion of the country on Feb. 24, 2022.
He frequently speaks of the “martyred” Ukrainian people and implores for peace between the two nations. In March 2022, he consecrated Ukraine and Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
The pope also came under criticism early last year for not directly naming Russian President Vladimir Putin as the aggressor in the war.
In October 2022, he made a direct appeal to the Russian president for an immediate cease-fire, imploring him to end the “spiral of violence and death” in Ukraine.
The appeal marked a break from Francis’ typical Sunday routine of reflecting on the day’s Gospel.
Pope Francis underlined that he chose to devote his entire reflection to Ukraine because the course of the war “has become so serious, devastating, and threatening that it has caused great concern.”
The pope has also indicated his willingness to help negotiate peace between the two countries.
Since the start of the war in Ukraine, Pope Francis has had several phone calls with Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.