Pope Francis Defies Protocol and Heads to Russian Embassy
No Pope in living memory has ever visited a foreign embassy to talk to an ambassador. By tradition, ambassadors are usually summoned by the Holy See’s Secretary of State to meet with the Pontiff.
But on Friday, February 25, Pope Francis broke protocol and visited the Russian Embassy to the Holy See situated on the road going to St. Peter’s Square.
The unprecedented move was triggered by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. According to Reuters, Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said the Pope spent more than half an hour at the embassy.
“He went to express his concern over the war," Bruni told Reuters.
The Vatican provided no further information nor distributed any video or photographs on visit. It was largely seen as a papal initiative.
Pope Francis is notorious for breaking protocol and tradition, but his visit to the Russian Embassy took Vatican observers by surprise.
‘A Glimmer of Conscience’
A day before the visit, Vatican’s Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin said the Holy See hoped that those who hold the destiny of the world in their hands would have a "glimmer of conscience,” according to Reuters.
Pope Francis has made numerous appeals for peace between Russia and Ukraine prior to the Invasion on February 24.
He called on world powers to “refrain from any action that would cause even more suffering to the people, destabilizing the coexistence between nations and discrediting international law.”
After the visit, Pope Francis reportedly spoke with Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk, leader of Ukraine's Eastern-rite Catholics who has opened up his cathedral’s basement as a bomb shelter and has vowed to never abandon Kyiv.