Pope Francis said in an interview published on Tuesday that he has asked for a meeting in Moscow with Russian President Vladimir Putin to try to stop the war in Ukraine but had not received a reply.
The pontiff also told the Italian daily Corriere Della Sera that Patriarch Kirill of the Russian Orthodox Church, who has given the war his backing, “cannot become Putin’s altar boy.”
Francis told the newspaper that about three weeks into the war, he asked the Vatican’s top diplomat to send a message to Putin about setting up a meeting.
“We have not yet received a response and we are still insisting,” the pope said.
He added: “I fear that Putin cannot, and does not, want to have this meeting at this time. But how can you not stop so much brutality?”
Francis also said that Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban had told him that Putin planned to end the war on May 9, which Russia celebrates as Victory Day marking Nazi Germany’s surrender in 1945.
The 85-year-old pontiff made an unprecedented visit to the Russian Embassy in Rome when the war started.
Information from Reuters and AFP was used in this report.