Vladimir Putin’s History of Vatican Visits as Pope Francis Urges Aggressors to End War in Ukraine

Tags: Currents Crux, Faith, Media, Pope Francis, Putin, Russia, Ukraine, World News

By Jessica Easthope

Since Russia invaded Ukraine, Pope Francis has avoided naming president Vladimir Putin – but has been sending messages directly to him.

“I repeat: Put down your weapons! God is with the peacemakers, not with those who use violence,” the Holy Father said.

Vladimir Putin’s history of making trips to the Vatican dates back more than two decades. The first time he met with Pope Francis, just eight months into his papacy in November of 2013, it was because they had a common interest – asking the United States not to take military action in the conflict in Syria.

But since then, the tone of the meetings with Pope Francis have been different. In 2015, they met after Russia annexed Crimea. Pope Francis urged Putin to respect the ceasefire agreement and allow humanitarian workers into the region. Their last meeting, in 2019, was seen by many to be a clashing of world views, as the two discussed Russia’s increased presence in Venezuela, Syria and Ukraine.

During that interaction, Pope Francis gave Putin a signed copy of the message of peace he gives to world leaders.

“This is the message of peace this year that I signed today for you,” he said.

And last Friday, Pope Francis made an unprecedented trip to the Russian embassy to the Holy See to express his concern about the war and attempt to make contact with Vladimir Putin’s political circles.

During his most recent general audiences, Pope Francis has made it clear that his heart remains with the Ukrainian people.

“Ordinary civilians are the real victims, who pay for the follies of war with their own skin,” he said.

Pope Francis asked that all those who are watching the conflict unfold should pray for those suffering.