“It will be an occasion to meet so many religious representatives and to dialogue the brothers, animated by the common desire for peace, the peace for which our world is thirsting,” Francis said.
“I ask everyone to accompany with prayer this pilgrimage of peace,”” the pontiff said.
He had been hoping to meet during his trip with the Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill, who has sought to justify Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on spiritual and ideological grounds in a “metaphysical” battle with the West.
But earlier this summer, Kirill bowed out of the interfaith gathering.
Francis had the first-ever encounter between a pope and a Russian Orthodox patriarch in 2016. Plans for a second encounter earlier this year were postponed over the diplomatic fallout of the war in Ukraine.
After Francis cited his pilgrimage, he urged continued prayers for the people, so that the “Lord gives them comfort and Ukrainian hope.” He said that a Polish cardinal who serves as his official almsgiver him is currently in Ukraine, to visit various communities and give concrete testimony of the closeness of the pope and the Catholic church.