“There is nothing of value in war,” says Cardinal Michael Czerny after returning from Ukraine as Pope Francis’ special envoy

Pope Francis calls war “meaningless” during Easter Mass 1:15 Don’t miss the full interview with Cardinal Michael Czerny, in a new edition of Face to Face, this Saturday, April 23, at 7 pm ( Miami time) (CNN Spanish) — Pope Francis sent two cardinals to Ukraine, which is going through a bloody war due to the invasion of Russia, to “show the pontiff’s closeness to those who suffer the consequences of the ongoing war”, Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said on Monday. The envoys were Konrad Krajewski, apostolic almoner, and Cardinal Michael Czerny, prefect ad interim of the Dicastery for the Service of Integral Human Development. CNN interviewed Czerny in Italy, who discussed the possibility of the pope’s visit to Ukraine and described his impressions of Ukrainian refugees at the borders. Czerny, a Canadian priest born in then Czechoslovakia, recently returned from his second trip to Ukraine’s border with Slovakia in the midst of the war. He arrived in Slovakia last Wednesday and was on the border with Ukraine in the following days. The cardinal, one of the main collaborators of Pope Francis, told CNN that he does not rule out that the pope visit that country. For Czerny, it is not about the logistics that the visit would involve, but about the contribution that the pope’s presence in Ukraine would represent. The cardinal told CNN that one of the things that struck him most about the Russian invasion is seeing how refugees, in addition to surviving attacks, must also deal with family separation. This is part of the highlight of Czerny’s interview with correspondent Javier Romero. What did the words of Pope Francis about the war leave? 1:14 CNN: Is it possible that Pope Francis will travel to Ukraine? Czerny: Anything is possible, yes. Everything is possible. It is not a matter of calculations, it is a matter of being able to contribute something important at this time. If he sees the possibility of contributing something, he will do it. What does the pope, the Vatican, contribute in a situation like this? Diplomacy in particular is to make meeting and dialogue possible. Dialogue is important, it is important to offer everything that each one can and the pope has something to offer in terms of his leadership, his way of summoning his towns, his people. When the other means are destructive, these elements are important. I very much hope that it can be done as soon as possible. What has been a scene of his trip to Ukraine that has impacted you? Cardinal Michael Czerny, prefect ad interim of the Dicastery for the Service of Integral Human Development in an interview for CNN in Spanish, on April 18, 2022. (Credit: CNN in Spanish) For me, the most important aspect was the reception of the that they were hosting both the Ukrainian side and the Slovak side. And what struck me a lot is that, that I did not have the experience of the bombs, of the attacks, of the destruction. But I did find all that and more in the people fleeing, in the women with their children… and I got this experience of the war lived by all normal people, you can say. You are the son of emigrants who had to leave you in the current Czech Republic. Did you ever think of these scenes seeing families leaving Ukraine? Did you see your parents, in these refugees, fleeing the country? Well, my parents with their two children, that is, me and my younger brother. And that was striking at the border to see the women arrive with their little ones who were there and had to comfort and support the children while at the same time suffering so much anguish, so much concern, so much agony. Finding mothers with their children knowing that they have just said goodbye to their husbands. Then, in addition to everything suffered, the terrible tragedy of the separation and not knowing how it was going to end. That touched me a lot and helped me learn again what Pope Francis said, that it is necessary to forget about any benefit, any advantage that war offers. It is a total zero, a total loss. You have said that it is the first time you have been in a country at war, but you already have a lot of experience with refugees. In addition, for decades the Jesuits have been very involved with the refugee issue. What do you and the Holy See see differently in this war? I don’t know if there is something different. I think it would be better to say the opposite: that there is nothing different, nothing interesting, nothing of value in war. In practice it is better not to talk about it. In other words, it is something completely outside of what human reality should be. In this sense, it is not different, it is tragic, it is horrible. But we must not forget that at the same time and with much more attention, there are another 10 or 15 other wars that continue, that have more victims, more destruction. But we and you the media don’t care. And that is also a problem of our our world. In fact, Pope Francis, in that blessing of the urbi et orbi, also mentioned those other wars and has said that there is a third world war in pieces. Is it, today more than ever, the situation more dangerous and even worse than in the past? I do not know, I do not know. That’s another thing that doesn’t seem to me to help us. Say if today is worse or better. It’s not better, certainly, but it helps us say it’s worse. That is what he said at the end of the urbi et orbi, and that is what we must remember: that peace is possible, that peace is necessary, and that peace is the responsibility of all of us. That is important. To say that this war is worse than the other is a waste of time and is disrespectful to the fact that everyone who lives in it lives as [algo] catastrophic. Pope Francis has not only criticized the war. He also said that increasing military spending and sanctions are crazy. What does the pope want to say at this moment? He is not simply a “no to war”. It’s something else… Right, right. And it is no coincidence that we have lived through this war during the Lenten season, which precisely called each one of us and the peoples to reflect on their own sins, to see how we all continue to contribute to this society, which is not only the time when the one that is taken, but they are much earlier moments. And that is available to all of us. And that is our responsibility. That is why peace is our responsibility. Can we say that the pope could see in this war a failure of politics? It is always true that [la guerra] it has always been a failure of dialogue, a failure of fraternity, a failure of humanity. That is the important thing: that the very erroneous calculations think that with what you can achieve something, that you can reach a good, something better. And that is completely false. You will be in contact with many refugees. To what extent does faith help these people? Well, each one has the faith and hope to, first thing, run away from the impossible situation, where life is impossible. Then it is necessary to change the place and change the situation. So each one has this faith and hope to find all the possibilities, the conditions for a decent life, a dignified life. And the vast majority also have the spiritual dimension of faith, that is, their faith in God and their trust in Him and their bonds with others, who they believe are also believers. The cross on his chest is a bit particular. Where does it come from? It is wood from a ship that has not arrived in Lampedusa (Italy) and the artist has made it in connection with my work mission. And I think it is simply a contemporary cross. It is a cross that reminds us of what I have just said. In other words, we are surrounded by representatives of Christ who suffer in agony, in the flight of their brothers and sisters.