A plan by the World Council of Churches (WCC) to bring Christian leaders from Russia and Ukraine together to discuss steps to end the Russian invasion of Ukraine has received a node from Pope Francis.
The General Secretary of the council, Rev Jerry Pillay, met with the 86 year old Pope in the Vatican and plans for a round table discussion was at the top of the agenda.
Pillay says: “Francis responded very positively to the initiative and certainly felt that we were actually on the right track.”
The South African academic who now leads the international organisation, said the Pope offered a “great sense of affirmation and confirmation”.
Pillay added: “The emphasis in terms of the conversation is the fact that we really need to focus on Jesus Christ and how belief in Christ steers us into working towards peace.”
Almost all UK Churches belong to the World Council.
Since the start of the war, the organisation has resisted calls from some members for it to expel the Russian Orthodox Church and its leader, Patriarch Kirill.
Pillay argues against that call, but stresses that the council has “condemned the war” and rejects any language that suggests a Bible-based justification for the Russian invasion.
He sees the meeting with the Pope as a positive step towards bringing Christian leaders from Ukraine and Russia into the same room for a discussion that will restore peace in the now war-raven country.