“I spoke to him for 40 minutes via Zoom,” the Pope told Italian daily Corriere della Sera in an interview published on Tuesday. “For the first twenty minutes he read to me, card in his hands, all the justifications for war.”
“I listened to him and said, ‘I don’t understand anything about this,'” the Pope said. “Brother, we are not state clergy, we cannot use the language of politics but the language of Christ.”
“The patriarch cannot turn himself into Putin’s altar boy,” the pope said.
Francis said the phone call with Kirill took place on March 16, and that he and the patriarch had agreed to postpone a meeting scheduled for June 14 in Jerusalem.
“Our second meeting will be face to face, and it has nothing to do with war,” the pope said. “But now, he, too, agrees: Let’s stop, it could be a vague signal.”
In March, Patriarch Kirill Kirill said the conflict was an extension of a fundamental cultural clash between the broader Russian world and Western liberal values, embodied in expressions of gay pride.
Experts say Kirill’s comments provide important insights into Putin’s larger spiritual vision for a return to the Russian Empire, where the Orthodox religion plays a pivotal role.
But the tough stance of the Russian patriarch costs him his followers.
In March, the Russian Orthodox Church in Amsterdam announced it was cutting ties with the leader, joining a growing number of priests and churches who had abandoned Moscow because of the war in Ukraine.