File photo of Cardinal Matteo Zuppi File photo of Cardinal Matteo Zuppi  (Francesco Pierantoni)

Cardinal Zuppi: Peace in Ukraine cannot be imposed

Cardinal Matteo Zuppi highlights the need for a ‘creative peace’ in Ukraine, and responds to journalists’ questions about a possible visit to Beijing as part of his mission to seek peace in Ukraine.

By Francesca Sabatinelli – Berlin

Cardinal Matteo Maria Zuppi, President of the Italian Bishops' Conference, has addressed the ongoing war in Ukraine, on the sidelines of an international meeting in Berlin.

"The Audacity of Peace" meeting, taking place on 10-12 September, is hosted by the St. Egidio Community in collaboration with the Catholic and Evangelical Churches in the German capital.

The event brings together leaders of the world's major religions, along with cultural and political leaders from 40 different countries, a legacy of the Interreligious Prayer for Peace held in Assisi in 1986 by Pope John Paul II.

Peace mission and visit to China

Responding to journalists’ questions, Cardinal Zuppi, the Pope’s special peace envoy for Ukraine, emphasized the need to find a solution to the war in Ukraine, highlighting the importance of distinguishing the aggressor from the victim.

He also discussed his peace mission entrusted to him by Pope Francis, which has already taken him to Ukraine, Russia, and the United States.

Cardinal Zuppi stressed the importance of working towards a just and secure peace, involving key players like China, where the Cardinal is expected to travel in the near future.

He reiterated that true peace cannot be imposed, emphasizing the role of Ukrainians in determining their own path to peace.

Peace, he said, requires the effort of everyone, but "it is never something that can be imposed by anyone; it must be the peace chosen by Ukrainians with the guarantees, commitment and effort of everyone.”

Papal support for Ukraine

Regarding recent tensions with Kyiv, following a speech by Pope Francis to young Russians in St. Petersburg, Cardinal Zuppi expressed confidence that these issues would be resolved, highlighting the Church's and the Pope's support for Ukraine in times of suffering.

The Cardinal echoed Pope Francis' desire for a "creative peace" to explain how the paths of peace itself are sometimes “unpredictable and require the commitment and involvement of all and a great alliance for peace to push in the same direction.”

‘Peace needs to come soon’

In response to criticism about the pace of diplomacy, Cardinal Zuppi defended the importance of taking action and attempting to make a difference.

“If you do nothing you fail but do nothing,” he said, adding that it is “always better to try.”

In reality, he said, peace often arrives late in the face of the suffering caused by war.

Peace, added the Cardinal, “should come right away, or better yet it should be the condition in which one lives.”

Cardinal Zuppi concluded by calling for patience and concerted efforts to rebuild what division, violence, and injustice have torn apart.

Patience is needed, he said, to "let the times mature" and to know how to seize them, always recalling "that peace must come, it must come immediately, as soon as possible."

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12 September 2023, 12:23