ROME, May 17. /TASS/. Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky, who met with Pope Francis on Saturday, presented the pontiff with gifts that are offensive to Christian believers, the il Fatto Quotidiano newspaper wrote.
The controversial item is an icon of Virgin Mary holding the Child Jesus, who is depicted only as a black outline.
"It was supposed to symbolize the ‘loss’ of Ukrainian children in the conflict, but to the head of the Roman Catholic Church, the ‘loss’ of Child Jesus means the loss of the Messiah, the loss of the reason to exist for the institute of the church itself," the paper quoted a prominent journalist, historian and former senator Raniero La Valle as saying.
In his opinion, the picture in fact symbolizes "erasing Christ from the cross and the denial of his resurrection."
Another present by Zelensky was the painting of Madonna, made on a fragment of a bulletproof vest, against the bloody red background with stripes in colors of the Ukrainian flag.
In contrast, Pope Francis gave President Zelensky a bronze sculpture representing an olive branch, a symbol of peace. He also gifted him with several documents devoted to peace and fraternity.
The majority of local observers share an opinion that talks with Zelensky failed and were "disappointing" for the Vatican. In this regard, Ukraine’s Ambassador to the Holy See Andrey Yurash had to give explanations. He told the Corriere della Sera newspaper in an interview that Kiev was ready to "cooperate with the Vatican on separate provisions of Zelensky’s ‘peace plan.’"
However, the president himself stated publicly that Ukraine has no need for mediators. The Vatican did not comment on those remarks. According to Vatican sources, Zelensky sought full recognition of his ‘peace plan,’ which the Pope refused. The Ukrainian president, in turn, rejected the Pope’s mediation offer.
Zelensky put forward a 10-point peace plan at the G20 meeting last November. Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that Zelensky’s statements ignored the present-day reality. Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said the proposal by the Kiev regime to hold a peace summit in the UN was a nonsensical idea and a PR stunt by Washington. Russia’s Permanent Representative to the UN Vasily Nebenzya said Zelensky’s peace initiatives are a mockery of the notion of a peace plan.