"Ukraine has the right to defend itself," - Archbishop Gallagher, Secretary of the Holy See
"I will go to Kyiv next week if all goes well," Archbishop Gallagher said at the beginning of the interview. He will travel to Ukraine on Wednesday, May 18, and on Friday, May 20, he will meet with the Minister of Foreign Affairs.
During the interview, the calls of St. Peter's successor to pray for peace in Ukraine and calls to politicians not to ignore the desire of people for peace were mentioned, as well as the words of Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi, who during a meeting with the US President noted that the citizens of Italy and Europe want to stop the unheard-of violence associated with the war in Ukraine and ask what can be done to bring peace.
In this context, the journalists' questions concerned the role of countries such as the United States and China in this process. "I believe that powerful countries such as the United States and China, members of the Security Council, have an extremely important task at this moment, and we must encourage them to fulfill their duties with a deep sense of morality and a deep understanding of the urgent situation facing us," he said.
Journalists of the Italian TV channel also asked the head of Vatican diplomacy about the religious background of the war in Ukraine. "I believe that it is indisputable that there is also a religious dimension to this conflict," the Archbishop said. "We are aware of the long-standing tension between Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople and Patriarch Kirill of Moscow, and in this situation of war, these things are even more acute. Unfortunately, we must admit that in Orthodoxy, most churches have a pronounced national identity, they are state churches. Therefore, it is very difficult for the Russian Orthodox Church to take a critical or different position from that of the government. But the Pope stresses that we must also overcome these conditions in order to play the role of true pastors of God's people and promote peace."
Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher stressed that the Holy See tries to maintain neutrality, that is, not to stand on one side, "but to create a space for dialogue, to be open to all, to promote peace and seek solutions to these terrible conflicts, the consequences of which we see every day."
The host asked Archbishop Gallagher about the prospects of ecumenical dialogue with the Moscow Patriarch. The Archbishop suggested that the dialogue will continue, although not at all levels. Regarding ecumenical relations, he stressed that the Holy See is quite successful in maintaining dialogue with almost all Orthodox Churches.
The journalists also recalled that at the end of the general audience on Wednesday, May 11, the Holy Father had a brief meeting with the wives of the Ukrainian military, who are surrounded at the Azovstal iron and steelworks in Mariupol. "Are these gestures of solidarity enough?" the host asked Archbishop Gallagher.
"In this humanitarian situation that Ukraine and Mariupol, in particular, are now in, this is not enough, but it is an important gesture. It is good that the Pope is doing what he can, offering the support and encouragement that he can give." He added that this gesture of the Holy Father is very important because it shows "our concern and our participation in the suffering of those families and those individuals." The hierarch recalled the millions of Ukrainian refugees who were forced to flee the war. "And the Pope is shedding tears over this," he said, "and in this, he is very sincere, he is very sympathetic to the suffering of humanity. Therefore, this is not a production, but a truly sincere gesture that he sought to show to these people and draw the attention of the whole world to this problem and this suffering."
"Do you support sending weapons to Ukraine for protection?", this was the final question. "Yes, of course," Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher replied. "I believe that this should be proportional, because, as I have already noted today, we do not want to start an arms race again. And we are facing a war that is more dangerous than ever before because there is a nuclear aspect. So, Ukraine has the right to defend itself and needs weapons to do so, but you need to be very reasonable in the way this is done."