Pope Francis greets journalists on papal flight to Malta
By Deborah Castellano Lubov
While greeting journalists aboard the papal flight from Rome to Malta, Pope Francis was asked whether he is considering the offer to visit the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv, and responded that it is on the table.
The Holy Father was beginning his full first day of his visit to the Mediterranean island nation of Malta.
As is customary for Pope Francis' Apostolic Journeys, the Holy Father welcomed the journalists aboard the flight and briefly greeted each individually.
Appeals against war
The Holy Father's 36th Apostolic Visit abroad, where welcoming migrants and refugees is at the center, takes place as the war in Ukraine wages into its second month.
The President of Ukraine has spoken to Pope Francis several times by phone and has encouraged him to visit the war-ravaged nation and to be a mediating force between Kyiv and Moscow. Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk, the head of Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, has invited Pope Francis to Ukraine in the past.
During the Pope's Sunday Angeluses and during his weekly Wednesday General Audiences, the Pope has made appeals for an end to the bombings and violence causing millions of Ukrainians to flee from their homes, and claiming numerous lives daily.
The Pope has given the availability of the Holy See to do whatever is possible to help bring an end to this war. The Holy Father has also participated in videocalls with the leader of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill of Moscow.
The mayor of Kyiv, Vitalij Klyčko, personally invited the Pope. Following the invitation, the Pope reiterated his closeness "to the suffering of the city, its people, those who had to flee and those who are called to administer it," as relayed by the Director of the Holy See Press Office, Matteo Bruni.
On 26 February, two days after Russia invaded Ukraine and violence escalated dramatically, Pope Francis expressed to the Ukrainian president "his deepest sorrow for the tragic events that are taking place in your country."
Throughout his pontificate, Pope Francis has warned against nationalism and war, while calling for disarmament.