Saturday, September 24, 2022

Parolin meets Russian foreign minister for 'productive' discussion at UN

 Cardinal Parolin: Ukraine has the right to defend itself, but arms  shipments could cause 'terrible' escalation | Catholic News Agency

The Secretary of State of the Holy See, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, met the Russian foreign minister on Thursday at the United Nations in New York.

Cardinal Parolin spoke to the minister, Sergei Lavrov, on the fringes of the 77th session of the UN General Assembly. 

A statement from the Russian foreign ministry said that Mr Lavrov had “made clear the reasons for the ongoing crisis in relations between Russia and the West, which is the result of Nato’s crusade to destroy Russia and split the world”.

The statement continued: “The steps taken by Russia are designed to ensure independence and security, as well as to counter the United States’ hegemonic aspirations to control all global processes.”

During the meeting, Mr Lavrov also told Cardinal Parolin that the plans for referendums in Russian-controlled regions of eastern Ukraine – which are expected to see the territories annexed to Russia – “are fully consistent with international law and serve to ensure the legitimate rights of the residents of these territories to self-determination and to building their life in accordance with their own civilisational, cultural and religious traditions”.

At that day’s meeting of the UN Security Council, which was dominated by rancorous debate between Russia and Western powers, the UN Secretary General, António Guterres, said he was “deeply concerned” by the plans for referendums and warned that any annexation “from threat or use of force is a violation of the UN Charter and of international law”.

Mr Guterres also said that “nuclear conflict, once unthinkable, has become a subject of debate”, following a video address by Vladimir Putin on Wednesday, in which the Russian president insisted that he would respond in kind to “nuclear blackmail”.

“All nuclear-armed states should recommit to the non-use and progressive elimination of nuclear weapons,” said Mr Guterres.

Separately on Wednesday, Cardinal Parolin had addressed a meeting of the Friends of the CTBT (Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty), a group of nations comprising Australia, Canada, Finland, Germany, Japan and the Netherlands. He said that “as global tensions rise and we hear rhetoric threatening the use of nuclear weapons, it is more crucial than ever to bring the CTBT into force”.

Mr Lavrov’s meeting with Cardinal Parolin was one of several he attended alongside the official proceedings of the UN assembly. The Russian statement said that the minister and the cardinal “noted the productive nature of the ongoing Russian-Vatican state-to-state and church-to-church dialogue at the high and highest levels”, and said that they also discussed “a number of priority bilateral and international cooperation issues”.

The Vatican news service said that the meeting “offered further proof of [the] guiding principle of dialogue” in the Holy See’s diplomacy.

Last week, the Crux news agency reported that Pope Francis spoke to Metropolitan Anthony Sevryuk of Volokolamsk, the “foreign minister” of the Russian Orthodox Church, at the World Congress of Leaders of Worl and Traditional Religions, in Kazakhstan.

Metropolitan Sevryuk described the conversation as “very cordial”, and told journalists that they had discussed the need for arrangements ahead of a meeting between the Pope and Patriarch Kirill of Moscow.

“We have to see where and when,” he said, “and the important thing is to have something at the end, some appeal like we did in Havana,” where the Pope met Kirill in 2016.

Responding to questions about the Pope’s remarks to an Italian newspaper in May, warning Kirill that he “cannot become Putin’s altar boy”, Metropolitan Sevryuk said that they were “very unexpected”.

“It is clear that it’s not useful for Christian unity,” he said.

During the opening session of the congress, Metropolitan Sevryuk read a prepared statement from Kirill, who announced in August that he would not attend. The address said that current global crises were “caused by attempts to build a world without moral values” and warned of “the distortion of historical facts and the unprecedented manipulation of mass consciousness”.