Cardinal Parolin calls for escalation to end and negotiations to begin

By Vatican News, 5 March 2022
A residential building damaged by an enemy aircraft in the Ukrainian capital Kyiv on 25 February 2022. Image: Drop of Light/


The Cardinal Secretary of State speaks with Italian journalists: “To widen the conflict would be a gigantic catastrophe.”

Cardinal Parolin warned that the spread of the Ukrainian conflict into the rest of Europe would be a “gigantic catastrophe,” the prospect of which makes one shudder. The Vatican Secretary of State made the remarks in an interview with four Italian newspapers (Il Corriere della Sera, La Repubblica, La Stampa and Il Messaggero). Cardinal Parolin called for the avoidance of any military escalation, an end to the violence, and the opening of peace talks, insisting “it is never too late” for negotiation. He said the Holy See is “ready to facilitate negotiations between Russia and Ukraine.”

The Cardinal addressed the possibility of the conflict spreading to other European countries in view of the decision by western nations to send weapons to Ukraine. “I don’t even dare think about it,” he said. “It would be a catastrophe of gigantic proportions, even if, unfortunately, it is not an outcome that can be completely excluded.” He took note of statements “in recent days that have evoked the incidents that preceded and provoked the Second World War,” saying, “These references make one shudder.”

To avert this danger, Cardinal Parolin said, “there is a need to avoid any escalation, stop the clashes and negotiate.” He also expressed concern about the “possible return to ‘a new cold war with two opposing blocs.’” Such a “disturbing scenario,” the Cardinal said, “goes against the culture of fraternity that Pope Francis proposes as the only way to build a just, solidarity-based and peaceful world.”

On the possibility of negotiations and a possible role for the Holy See, the Cardinal Secretary of State said: “Although what we feared and hoped would not happen has happened — the war unleashed by Russia against Ukraine — I am convinced that there is always room for negotiation. It is never too late! Because the only reasonable and constructive way to settle differences is through dialogue, as Pope Francis never tires of repeating.” He added, “The Holy See, which in recent years has followed the events in Ukraine constantly, discreetly, and with great attention, offering its willingness to facilitate dialogue with Russia, is always ready to help the parties to resume that path.”

On Friday 25 February, as is well known, Pope Francis went personally to knock at the door of the diplomatic headquarters of the Russian Federation on the Via della Conciliazione, just a few hundred metres from St Peter’s Basilica. “I take advantage of this occasion,” said Cardinal Parolin, “to renew the pressing invitation that the Holy Father made during his visit to the Russian embassy to the Holy See, to stop the fighting and return to negotiations. First and foremost, the military attack, the tragic consequences of which we have all already witnessed, must be stopped immediately. I would like to recall the words of Pius XII on 24 August 1939, a few days before the outbreak of the Second World War: ‘Let men return to understanding. Let them resume negotiating. By negotiating with good will and with respect for each other’s rights, they will find that honourable success is never precluded from sincere and active negotiations.’”

The Secretary of State also spoke about the disagreements between the Churches: “In the history of the Church, unfortunately, there has never been a lack of particularities and they have led to many painful divisions, as Saint Paul testifies at the very origin of Christianity, and who at the same time exhorts us to overcome them. In this sense, we see encouraging signs in the appeals of the heads of the Orthodox Churches, who show willingness to leave aside the memory of mutual wounds and to work for peace.” On the other hand, the Churches also “agree in expressing grave concern about the situation and in affirming that, apart from any other consideration, the values of peace and human life are what is truly at the heart of the Churches, which can play a fundamental role in preventing the situation from worsening further.”

Finally, returning to the ongoing conflict, Cardinal Parolin said: “Once again we see that communication and listening to each other is necessary in order to fully know and understand the reasons of others. When people stop communicating and listening sincerely to each other, they look at each other with suspicion and end up exchanging only mutual accusations. Developments in recent months have only fuelled this mutual deafness, leading to open conflict. The aspirations of each country and their legitimacy must be the subject of a common reflection, in a broader context and, above all, taking into account the choices of citizens and respecting international law. History is full of examples confirming that this is possible.”

With thanks to Vatican News, where this article originally appeared.


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