Cardinal Parolin urges negotiation to find a ‘win-win solution’ to war in Ukraine

Courtney Mares   By Courtney Mares for CNA


Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin talks to EWTN Vatican correspondent Colm Flynn on March 19, 2022. / EWTN.

Rome Newsroom, Mar 22, 2022 / 08:00 am (CNA).

As Russian forces continue to bombard Ukraine, the Vatican’s top diplomat has called for peace negotiations to find a “win-win solution” to the war.

In an interview with EWTN Vatican correspondent Colm Flynn, Cardinal Pietro Parolin said that “the message of the Holy See, of the Holy Father, is to stop the war.”

“The second message is to start to negotiate … knowing that there is always an honorable solution, if we want. I insist on that we are not to defeat anybody,” the Vatican Secretary of State said.

“In diplomacy, we speak about the win-win solution, that everybody is satisfied.”

“I think that there is always space, just to achieve something which is of satisfaction for everybody … also in this situation,” he added.

The cardinal spoke on March 19, with the Russian assault on Ukraine already in its fourth week. The following day, Turkey’s foreign minister said that the two sides were “close to an agreement.”

Within 24 hours, however, a Russian government spokesman said there had been no significant progress in peace talks.

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Pope Francis discussed the humanitarian crisis in the country during a phone call on March 22. The two men had previously spoken on Feb. 26, two days after Russia’s full-scale invasion.

Commenting on the Ukraine conflict, Parolin underlined that goodwill was needed to achieve anything in the talks between the two parties.

“Without the goodwill, there is no possibility of achieving anything,” he underlined.

The 67-year-old Italian cardinal, who celebrated a Mass for peace in Ukraine at the Vatican on March 16, described the war as a “massacre” on March 22.

Speaking to journalists as he inaugurated a new palliative care center in Passoscuro, west of Rome, he said: “I think we are all at a loss in the face of what has happened and is continuing to happen, without knowing what the future holds, hoping that we will succeed in putting an end to this massacre — I would define it as such — and that we will succeed first of all stopping the war, and then in starting negotiations that can lead to a solution.”

On Catholic-Muslim Relations

EWTN’s interview with Parolin took place in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), where the cardinal had traveled to participate in the Holy See’s national day on March 19 at the Dubai Expo.

Incidentally, the cardinal was in Dubai on the date that the Vatican released a new apostolic constitution on the ninth anniversary of the start of Pope Francis’ pontificate.

Parolin said that it was Pope Francis’ personal decision to have the Vatican participate in the Dubai Expo as the Holy See continues to work to build a “constructive relationship with the Islam and the Arabic world.”

The Vatican’s chief diplomat noted that the Holy See has “many initiatives” within the UAE, noting that Cardinal Miguel Angel Ayuso, the president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, also traveled to the UAE last month.

Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, the president of the Pontifical Council for Culture, also traveled to Dubai for the exhibit’s inauguration in October.

“My experience is an experience of great openness,” Parolin said of his diplomatic work in the UAE.

“I had been here a few years ago for the consecration of a new church in Abu Dhabi and in that occasion also I had the chance to experience and to see that the authorities were very open to the Catholic Church.”

He added that the goal of the Holy See’s participation in the Dubai expo is “to know each other better.”

Parolin noted that in a conversation with a local government official, the Emirati leader had commented that he was impressed by how well the Vatican officials he had encountered “knew Islam.”

Cardinal Ayuso, for example, speaks fluent Arabic and was a professor of Islamic studies in Cairo before Pope Francis appointed him to lead the Catholic Church’s interreligious dialogue initiatives. Ayuso is also one of the presidents of the Higher Committee on Human Fraternity.

“I think that the Catholic Church is doing its best through its institution to know better and to understand better the others, and we hope that this will be … let’s say there will be a reciprocity,” Parolin said.

The Dubai Expo is the first world’s fair to be held in the Middle East. The Vatican Library has sent three original manuscripts which are currently on display in the Holy See pavilion.

The oldest of the documents is an Arabic translation of the Greek scholar Theon of Alexandria’s introduction to Ptolemy’s “Handy Tables,” produced between 800 A.D. and 830 A.D. by the Bayt al-Ḥikmah, or House of Wisdom, in Baghdad. It is the first time that the manuscript has left the Vatican Library.

The Holy See is participating in the expo,despite a call from the European Union’s law-making body for its member states to signal disapproval of what it described as human rights violations in the UAE by not participating in the expo.

Human Rights Watch also issued a statement arguing that the UAE’s attempts to “promote a public image of openness” with the expo were “at odds with the government’s efforts to “prevent scrutiny of its rampant systemic human rights violations.”

“Since 2011 UAE authorities have carried out a sustained assault on freedom of expression and association, arresting and prosecuting hundreds of independent lawyers, judges, teachers, students, and activists, and shutting down key civil society associations and the offices of foreign organizations, effectively crushing any space for dissent,” said the statement published Oct. 1, 2021.

In the interview with EWTN, Parolin urged Catholics living in the Arabian Peninsula to “be courageous” in witnessing to the Gospel, despite the difficulties that they face.

“Of course, there are so many problems in the world, but [Pope Francis] never forgets his sons and daughters, who live here and have a special mission to perform to be witness of the Christian values of the Gospel,” Parolin said.

“It’s not important to have results in life, I don’t think. The important thing is to witness and to do our duty till the last, to the end,” he said.

If you value the news and views Catholic World Report provides, please consider donating to support our efforts. Your contribution will help us continue to make CWR available to all readers worldwide for free, without a subscription. Thank you for your generosity!

Click here for more information on donating to CWR. Click here to sign up for our newsletter.

About Catholic News Agency 6917 Articles
Catholic News Agency (

1 Comment

  1. For whatever it’s worth, in the world of mediation (as for domestic environmental issues) it is judged that only one case in ten is actually ripe for mediation or negotiation. In addition, mediators sometimes cite nine prerequisites:

    The number of “interests” must be manageable and interested in an agreement,
    The interests must be sufficiently organized that they have a voice accepted by themselves,
    The issues must be ripe (mediation resolves conflict; it does not avoid conflict),
    Delay serves none of the parties,
    Needed information can be developed,
    Parties have the opportunity to assess their respective needs, concerns and positions,
    Agencies [or governments] are at a point where decisions and actions are needed,
    The issues in controversy have components which allow for a package settlement, and
    There is sufficient doubt as to the outcome of litigation [domestic issues] that no parties are interested in this route.

    How all this might apply to a case not of multiple “interests,” but of military invasion across nation-state boundaries, when genocidal war crimes are also part of the picture, causes one to wonder about the nature of any “win-win” solution.

    Protection of national boundaries and reparation for war crimes, and compensation for injured families (both Ukrainian and Russian) would seem to be the non-negotiable start point for any just negotiation. Then, and only then, maybe something (?) about the nature and significant details of a self-determining buffer state.

    In any event, a “provisional agreement” as earlier between the Vatican and China likely is not a “win-win.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

All comments posted at Catholic World Report are moderated. While vigorous debate is welcome and encouraged, please note that in the interest of maintaining a civilized and helpful level of discussion, comments containing obscene language or personal attacks—or those that are deemed by the editors to be needlessly combative or inflammatory—will not be published. Thank you.