Zuppi's mission, a glimmer of peace. Editorial by Marco Impagliazzo

A glimmer of hope breaks into the worst scenario of war in Ukraine, amid bombings, heavy suffering of the population and now also the collapse of a major dam near Kherson with incalculable consequence

.Certainly, it is still a small ray of light. It is the mission undertaken by Cardinal Matteo Zuppi, president of the Italian Bishops' Conference, in Kiev: significant news because it rows against the current, against the winds of war that appear to be unstoppable or, rather, to which we have all become somewhat accustomed. Pope Francis is certainly not resigned, as he has never ceased to launch appeals, for the past 15 months, for the weapons to be stopped, before it becomes too difficult to silence them.

It is for this reason that he thought of and desired a humanitarian mission entrusted to one of his special envoys, Cardinal Zuppi, who has been committed to peace on several occasions in the past: not only more than 30 years ago, with the Community of Sant'Egidio, for Mozambique, but also, again in the 1990s, for Burundi at risk of genocide, together with Nobel prize-winner Nelson Mandela and Tanzanian leader Julius Nyerere, and for other countries.
As stated in the Vatican press release announcing the visit, the mission to Ukraine has not 'mediation' as its immediate aim. Its main purpose is to listen in depth and to support gestures of humanity. 
It is a humanitarian and listening mission. It is here that it is necessary to start: initiatives in favour of the population and, in particular, of the children who are most affected by the consequences of the war. And then it is necessary to listen and understand where and how paths can be opened to help those who are suffering.
Listening comes before any other action and reopens hope after months of fighting. Zuppi listened, visited places of pain, such as Bucha, and met with religious and civil authorities, including Volodymir Zelensky. The meeting with the Ukrainian president, who nevertheless remains on a position of complete closure towards Moscow, was judged by the Vatican nuncio, Visvaldas Kulbokas, to be "sincere, cordial and important". The president of the Italian Bishops' Conference listened to and shared with Kiev Pope Francis' concerns. The Pope is recognised by everyone as a spiritual and moral world leader also because he has no economic or national interests.
So what was the outcome of the visit in the end? We will understand this better in the coming days, even because it is only a first stage of a long journey, foreseeing not only a visit to Russia but also to other countries where several important players in resolving the crisis live. Peace is the ultimate goal of Pope Francis, who strongly urged this mission. Zuppi has taken it on with great realism, aware of all the existing difficulties, trying to set up a humanitarian action accepted by the parties, but keeping that goal in his heart.
As he said before leaving for Kiev, in a greeting he addressed at the end of the Mass in Rome: "Suffering, pain demand  persistent prayer and looking for any and all ways so that peace may not be a distant dream, but may become reality". He then said his farewells by reading the touching prayer that concludes the encyclical Pacem in Terris written 60 years ago by John XXIII, the Pope who helped resolve the Cuba crisis between the United States and the Soviet Union in 1962: "May He illumine with His light the minds of rulers, so that, they may also guarantee them the fairest gift of peace. May Christ inflame the desires of all men to break through the barriers which divide them, to strengthen the bonds of mutual love, to learn to understand one another, and to pardon those who have done them wrong and may the peace they long for ever flower and ever reign among them."
Editorial by Marco Impagliazzo in La Nuova Sardegna (IT), translated by staff