VILNIUS - As Russia wages its war against Ukraine for the past almost nine months, Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda sees the Holy See's significant role in pursuit of peace.
"We, the Lithuanians, will always remember the fundamental contribution of the Holy See and the Catholic Church to the development of Lithuania's statehood, support for the country's independence and the chosen European path of development," the Lithuanian president said in a message of congratulation on Thursday on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Lithuania and the Holy See.
"The forces of evil are now once again trying to destroy Europe's unity built on the foundations of thousands of years of civilization. Therefore, the role of the Catholic Church and the Holy See in uniting peoples and fostering the foundations of human coexistence becomes even more important," Nauseda underlined.
Although Pope Francis earlier condemned Russia's invasion of Ukraine, he has tried to keep the door open for dialogue with Moscow, refraining from condemning Russia, President Vladimir Putin or the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Kirill. Kyiv has repeatedly criticized this position.
In early October, the pope deplored Russia's annexation of Ukrainian territory and called on the Russian president "to stop this spiral of violence and death" and on Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky "to be open to serious peace offers".
It was the first time since the start of Moscow's invasion on February 24 that an Argentinean pope addressed the Russian leader directly in his speech.