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PM Shmyhal meets Pope Francis in Vatican, invites him to Ukraine
Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal met Pope Francis in the Vatican on April 27, handing him a photo album about Russian war crimes in Ukraine.
Shmyhal said that he had also invited the pontiff to Ukraine, hoping the Vatican would join the efforts to implement the peace formula proposed by President Volodymyr Zelensky.
The Ukrainian PM thanked Pope Francis for humanitarian assistance to Ukraine, particularly for treating injured Ukrainian children in the Vatican hospital.
According to Ukraine's embassy to the Holy See, this is Shmyhal's second visit to Pope Francis' residency.
Pope Francis said in a Feb. 5 interview with Corriere della Sera that he was open to meeting both Russian dictator Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Zelensky. The Pope has repeatedly condemned Russia's war in Ukraine and called for peace, though not always clearly stating the aggressor.
The pontiff regularly referred to Ukraine and its people as "martyred" since Russia invaded Ukraine. However, during the Holy Cross rite on April 8, the Vatican decided to read both the testimonies of a Ukrainian and a Russian teenager together, apparently equating them.
The Vatican had already been under the fire of critics from Ukraine after a Ukrainian and a Russian woman carried a cross together in April 2022. The text they were supposed to read about reconciliation at the Good Friday service, deemed offensive for some Ukrainians, had been scrapped after Ukraine's protestations.