MOSCOW, August 26. /TASS/. Pope Francis is ready to make a trip to Donbass after visiting Russia, presumably in the spring of 2023, Chairman of the World Union of Old Believers Leonid Sevastyanov told TASS, citing a conversation with the pontiff.
"Pope Francis is ready to visit Donetsk on his way to or from Moscow to see the places where tragic events have been taking place for eight years, including the Alley of Angels, hold a memorial service there and pray for all the children killed in the conflict. He is also willing to meet with civilians and kids who lost their parents to sort things out for himself. It may help build dialogue between Russia and Ukraine, as well as the West in general," Sevastyanov pointed out.
He added that the Ukrainian authorities were persistently inviting the pontiff to the country but Pope Francis intended to visit Kiev after Russia. Sevastyanov explained that the Pope was hopeful that he would be able to make a trip to Russia in the spring of 2023 but he was ready to come sooner if there was an invitation from the Russian authorities.
"The thing to understand is that it won’t be a religious visit, <...> it will be a secular trip, involving meetings with the president and secular officials. After Donbass, the Pope may head to Ukraine to convey Russia’s position to Kiev and help the parties find common ground as he sees himself as a neutral mediator," Sevastyanov noted.
The Vatican did not rule out earlier that Pope Francis might go to Ukraine in August. The Pope himself said that he hoped to visit Moscow and Kiev after a trip to Canada on July 24-30, and then repeated that he had sought a trip Ukraine.