Pope Francis, in his second meeting since he became the pope in 2013 urged the Russian President Putin to take “sincere efforts” to achieve peace in Ukraine.
Vatican spokesman the Rev. Federico Lombardi said that their 50 minutes conversation largely centered around the Ukrainian conflict and the crisis in the middle-east where the Holy See is distressed about the fate of the Christian minority.
“The Holy Father stressed that there has to be an important and sincere effort to achieve peace [in Ukraine]. There was agreement on the importance of rebuilding an atmosphere of dialogue, and that all the parties commit to applying the Minsk [ceasefire] accords,” came a statement from the Vatican.
The Pope also expressed the need to provide access to humanitarian aid in Eastern Ukraine.
Discussing the humanitarian abuses in Syria and Iraq, the Holy See told the President that it was quintessential for him to work with the international community “ensuring in the meantime, conditions necessary for life of all sections of society,” and safeguard the interests of the minorities, particularly the Christians.
The meeting also involved the two presenting each other with symbolic gifts. Putin presented Pope Francis with an embroidery of Moscow’s famous Cathedral of Christ the Savior, while the pontiff gave the president an angel of peace medallion. “It is the angel who wins all wars and speaks of solidarity between all peoples,” Francis told Putin.