Will the Pope Intervene to Stop the War in Ukraine? While Vladimir Putin’s campaign in Ukraine has been stymied by a surprisingly effective resistance, things aren’t going well for the Ukrainian people. Millions of citizens have been forced to flee their homes as their nation is ravaged by bombs, missiles, tanks, and block-by-block urban warfare.

The war has led to one of the biggest humanitarian and refugee crises in the world.

It’s perhaps little surprise, then, that Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelenskyy has asked the leader of the Roman Catholic Church and perhaps Europe’s most powerful religious figure, Pope Francis, to play “a mediatizing role” to help end the bloodshed.

The latest call on March 22 wasn’t the first between Zelenskyy and Francis. A month earlier, just after the Russian invasion began, the two also spoke by telephone, after which Zelenskyy said that Francis had expressed his “most profound pain for the tragic events unfolding in our country.” [1]

This is surprising, however, given that historically, the Roman Catholic Church hasn’t been, to put it mildly, much appreciated by the Ukrainian people. Indeed, the office of the papacy has been viewed with great suspicion, even outright hostility, from that part of Europe for almost a thousand years.

The Schism

The Great Schism of 1054

This hostility goes back to the year 1054, when the Roman Catholic Church excommunicated the Patriarch of Constantinople, Michael Cerularius. This event was the climax of long-simmering tensions between the Roman church in Italy and the Byzantium church in Constantinople (now Istanbul, Turkey), which went on to become the Eastern Orthodox Church.

Among the issues that caused the breakup was whether it was acceptable to use unleavened bread for communion—Rome said yes; Byzantium said no. Also at issue was the power of the pope. Rome believed that the pontiff should have ultimate authority over the patriarch of Constantinople, which the church to the east rejected.

Known as the “Great Schism,” this religious division remains to this day. And although the animosity has eased in the past century, there is little love lost between the two churches, even despite attempts by Rome to heal the rift.

This is why Zelenskyy, whose country is majority Eastern Orthodox, asking for Rome’s help is significant; it reveals the stature that the pope’s office has achieved as a moral authority. In the last days, we’re told, the whole world will wonders after the beast (Revelation 13:3).

Shades of World War II

The war in Ukraine, however, has put Francis in a precarious position.

First, it reminds people of the criticism that one of his predecessors, Pius XII, faced during World War II, when Pius didn’t speak openly and forcibly against Hitler’s war. Second, Francis must balance many aspects of diplomacy, including the fate of Roman Catholics in Russia, which does not offer the level of religious freedom that the United States enjoys.

David Kertzer, the author of an upcoming book on Pius XII, Hitler, and Mussolini, said that, like Pius II, Francis has to balance the interests of his church and the demand, even from those within his church, that he publicly denounce Putin and the supporters of his war—which includes Patriarch Kirill of the Russian Orthodox Church, whom many believe is one of the driving forces of the invasion. “The position he [Francis] is taking, or not taking,” Kertzer noted, “is not risk free.” [2]

In his Sunday sermon on March 13, Francis did make a plea for the war to stop, imploring, “In the name of God, I ask you: stop this massacre!” Yet he didn’t specifically say whom he was imploring, even if everyone understood that to be Putin.

Blessed Are the Peace Makers

The Sermon on the MountPerhaps the pope’s ambiguity was part of his attempt to play the role of peacemaker down the road and not immediately antagonize the Russians. Whatever his motives, the question remains regarding what the pope can really do to stop the conflict. With practically all the world pushing hard against Putin and the war, what can the pontiff add to the mix other than his personal encouragement?

In their call, Zelenskyy emphasized to the pope the evolving humanitarian crisis, in which millions of civilians have been uprooted from their homes and now face hunger and exposure to the elements—in addition to the dangers of combat. In a Tweet about their conversation, Zelenskyy said, “Told His Holiness about the difficult humanitarian situation and the blocking of rescue corridors by Russian troops. The mediating role of the Holy See in ending human suffering would be appreciated. Thanked for the prayers for Ukraine and peace.”

While prayers are good, and while the call reveals the stature of “His Holiness” in the eyes of Europe, none of this has stopped the war, which could escalate into a regional or even global conflict.

Yet all of this should not be surprising. Jesus, in speaking about the last days, warned, “You will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of sorrows” (Matthew 24:6). This war, unfortunately, is another fulfillment of Jesus’ prophecy.

Bible prophecy also has much more to say about the times in which we are living, including the role of the Roman Catholic Church in the last days. To learn how it will eventually impact you, read “The Mark of the Beast.” There you will find answers and comfort amid these troubling times, “the beginning of sorrows,” which now includes the terrible war in Europe. [3]

[1] https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2022/mar/22/ukrainian-leader-volodymyr-zelenskyy-speaks-pope-f/

[2] https://www.nytimes.com/2022/03/18/world/europe/pope-francis-ukraine-russia-war.html

[3] https://www.amazingfacts.org/media-library/media/e/419/t/the-mark-of-the-beast/

Papacy Watch

Words of Care and Concern
If anyone should think that we are attacking fellow Christians, please keep in mind that the prophecy is aimed at a system and not individuals. There are sincere, devout Christians in all churches, including the Catholic faith. Bible prophecy simply gives a message of judgment and correction upon a large religious institution that compromised with paganism, as many other churches have also done.