Pope Francis Speaks With Ukraine President about Peace Efforts

Pope Francis meets with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy at the Vatican on May 13, 2023, their first meeting since the start of the full-scale war with Russia. | Credit: Vatican Media

Pope Francis spoke by telephone with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy three days after Christmas to discuss peace efforts to end the ongoing Russo-Ukrainian war, according to a video message Zelenskyy posted on X, formerly known as Twitter. 

“We discussed our joint work on the Peace Formula,” Zelenskyy said. “More than 80 states are already involved at the level of their representatives. There will be more. I am grateful to the Vatican for supporting our work.”

Zelenskyy said the pontiff expressed “his wishes of peace — just peace for all of us” during the Dec. 28 phone call. 

The Ukrainian president also said he expressed gratitude to the pope “for his Christmas greetings to Ukraine and Ukrainians.”

On Christmas, Pope Francis delivered a Christmas blessing in which he said: “Saying ‘yes’ to the Prince of Peace means saying ‘no’ to war, and this with courage: saying no to every war, to the very mindset of war, an aimless voyage, a defeat without victors, madness without excuses.”


When speaking about Ukraine, the pope called for people to “renew our spiritual and human closeness to its embattled people, so that through the support of each of us, they may feel the concrete reality of God’s love.”

Pope Francis has met with Zelenskyy twice: once in 2020, before the Russian invasion, and again on May 13, more than a year after the February 2022 invasion. The pontiff has also spoken with the Ukrainian president several times over the phone. Francis has repeatedly urged a peaceful resolution to the ongoing conflict.

In May of last year, the pontiff said he also hoped to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow, but there has not yet been a meeting. Francis had met with the Russian president prior to the invasion. In February 2022, the pope visited the Russian embassy to express his concerns about the invasion but did not speak with Putin.

Pope Francis had a video conference call with Patriarch Kirill of Moscow, the primate of the Russian Orthodox Church, in March of last year. Although the two had met in person in 2016, they have not met in person since the start of the war, despite talk that there would be a second summit. 

In Zelenskyy’s video message, the Ukrainian president also thanked the United States for the new military aid package to Ukraine. 

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“This package includes missiles for air defense systems and HIMARS, artillery of 155 and 105 caliber, and additional armored vehicles,” Zelenskyy said. “Everything we need. Everything that helps tangibly.”