The image of Catholicism globally is often of the Church as an earthly power. In the Russian case, this is doubtless not helped by the links between the Russian Orthodox Church and the state (which have manifested never more clearly than in the past eighteen months, with the words and actions of Patriarch Kirill, who is vocal in his support for the war). Greater acknowledgement of the part played by the Catholic Church in previous centuries of conflict might at times prove helpful to furthering dialogue. The pope, however, clearly sees himself (and the papacy) as a figure of unity and a peacemaker. (Most Catholics would subscribe to this view of the pope, too.) Many Russians, and particularly Russian nationalists, would never see the papacy in this way.
For them, Catholicism and the papacy are very much a part of the problem, a casus belli, and the pope cannot be viewed by them as a neutral figure, no matter what he does. From their point of view, Catholicism is an empire which has held sway over much of the West with the pope at its head. The pope is right, however, to continue to strive for peace and to seek to be a figure of unity in our war-torn world: in doing so, no matter what criticism he receives, he is doing what Christ would do. As Christians, whether Catholic, Orthodox or otherwise, we cannot but continue to pray and hope for peace and healing from the tragedies of this war.