‘Why Putin's meeting with the Pope ruffled the West’

Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) meets Pope Francis during a private meeting at Vatican City, June 10, 2015 (Reuters / Gregorio Borgia)
Vladimir Putin and Pope Francis are popular figures who impact people’s thoughts, and their meeting in the Vatican represented a reunification of Western and Eastern worlds, Ukrainian journalist Halyna Mokrushyna told RT’s In the Now.

RT:Why did the US ambassador to the Holy See Kenneth Hackett call on the Vatican for a tougher stance on Russia ahead of Vladimir Putin’s meeting with Pope Francis? What would the Pope's condemnation of Russia really change?

Halyna Mokrushyna: Because we should not forget that France and Italy, two members of the G7, are to a large extent, still Catholic countries, so the Pope’s condemnation of so-called "Russian aggression" would add to this mainstream popular narrative that Russia is an aggressor in this war and it’s important for the US to have the Catholic Church support it in that regard, in my opinion.

READ MORE: US attempt to ‘lecture the Pope’ before Putin meeting a ‘big responsibility’ to take – Kremlin

RT:What does it mean, in your opinion, if it doesn’t get this support of the Washington position?

HM: I think the Pope’s position is very moderate and temperate in this regard, because the church should stay out of this conflict. And that is the position also of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the so-called Moscow Patriarchate. I hope that Pope Francis will remain on this position because he is right: It is a civil war and the Church should not be involved in that conflict in a country like Ukraine where the religious cleavage is deep.

RT:The Pope always gets a lot of media attention, Putin gets a lot of media attention, and when you put two together it’s an immediate storm. Why is there so much attention from mainstream media?

HM: Because, as you said, the Pope is a very popular figure and Putin is a very popular figure. As I said before, the Pope is a representative of a very powerful social institution, which is the Catholic Church, so whatever he does or says has a big impact on people’s thoughts and Catholic parishioners across the world. Putin, of course, is the most popular leader, or one of the most according ... to Time, so it is quite understandable. Especially the Pope represents the Western world, and Putin represents the Eastern world.

READ MORE: Vladimir Putin steals the show in TIME 100 reader’s poll

RT:Putin met with Italy's Prime minister ahead of his visit to the Vatican where he was asked about Russia's relations with the G7. The Russian President said that Russia doesn’t have any relations with the G7, and that it is not really an organization, but just a membership club. Why are we hearing this sort of rhetoric now?

HM: Because from what I’ve been following Russia really tried all the diplomatic means to solve this crisis. Russia used all platforms of international cooperation that are available out there and frankly it didn’t work, so that’s why we have this deep disappointment on Russia’s behalf. The G7 is about one unified position in terms of the war in Ukraine... [There are] complaints, I guess, because it comes from the realization that this is a group of countries who represent the same mono-polar world, and they don’t’ want to hear an alternative opinion.


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