Vatican Secretary of State says Russia should play important role on international stage

Russia should play an important role in the world, given the country’s geographical position, history and culture, as well as its past and present, Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin said in an interview following his visit to Russia, which was broadcast by Vatican Radio on Friday. During his visit, the cardinal held meetings with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Foreign Secretary Sergey Lavrov and Patriarch of Moscow and all-Russia Kirill.

“I tried to make one thing clear: given Russia’s geographical position, history, culture, as well as its past and present, the country should play an important role on the international stage,” Parolin said. “It means great responsibility in ensuring peace and requires that the [Russian] leaders put the interests of peace above any other interests,” he added.

The Vatican secretary of state expressed deep satisfaction with his meeting with the Russian president. “We had a very amicable conversation, discussing a wide range of issues, particularly the situation in the Middle Ease and Syria. Both the Holy See and Russia pay much attention to the situation that Christians are in,” Cardinal Parolin said.

As for the prospects for resolving the Ukrainian crisis, he emphasized the importance of humanitarian initiatives, particularly put forward by Vatican. “In this sense, the release of prisoners is one of the humanitarian issues that could give impetus to the whole process. It is important to ensure the ceasefire and the safety of territories and people. Under certain political conditions, it could help find a long-term solution,” the Vatican secretary of state noted.

Cardinal Parolin also praised the current state of relations between the Holy See and the Russian Orthodox Church, saying that there was “a new atmosphere of convergence, which received momentum after the Havana meeting between Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill last year.” According to Parolin, during his meeting with the Patriarch, issues important for both churches were touched upon, while the discussion was held “in a spirit of mutual respect and frankness.”

“Pope Francis considers every possibility for dialogue very seriously,” the cardinal said adding that he had presented a report to the Pope “about the positive and meaningful outcome” of his visit.