The Pope has warned the head of the Russian Orthodox Church against serving as Vladimir Putin's 'alter boy' after Patriarch Kirill gave the Russian invasion of Ukraine his seal of approval. Kirill, 75, sees the war as a rampart against a decadent West - particularly over the endorsement of homosexuality - that menaces his vision of a 'Russky Mir' ('Russian World') that includes Belarus and Ukraine. 'We (the Pope and Kirill) are pastors of the same people of God. That is why we have to pursue paths of peace, to cease the fire of weapons. The patriarch cannot become Putin's altar boy,' Francis was quoted as saying. [tweet_embed] May 7, 2022[/tweet_embed] The 85-year-old pontiff also told Italy's Corriere Della Sera newspaper that he had spoken to Moscow via Vatican diplomats and that he desired a meeting with Putin three weeks into the conflict, but did not receive a response. Pope Francis previously met Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban two weeks ago and was told by the far-right leader - Putin's principal ally in the EU - that 'the Russians have a plan, that everything will end on May 9', referring to the anniversary of the end of the Soviet Union's involvement in World War II. With that date coming early next week, Francis conveyed to Putin that he was willing to make the trip to Moscow. 'Certainly, it was necessary for the Kremlin leader to allow an opening. We have not yet received a response and we are still insisting,' Francis expressed. [tweet_embed] May 7, 2022[/tweet_embed] He added: 'I fear that Putin cannot, and does not, want to have this meeting at this time. But how can you not stop so much brutality?' The Pope has walked a delicate tightrope over the conflict, condemning 'unjustified aggression' and lamenting atrocities against civilians, but has until now abstained from officially pointing the finger at Russia and Putin. Asked about a trip to the Ukrainian capital Kyiv, which Francis declared was a possibility last month, the pope said he would not go for now. 'First, I have to go to Moscow. First I have to meet Putin... I do what I can. If Putin would only open a door,' he stated. Francis also appeared to indicate NATO was in part to blame for Putin's illegal invasion of Ukraine, which started when the Russian tyrant ordered his troops across his neighbor's border on February 24. [tweet_embed] May 7, 2022[/tweet_embed] He declared that while he would not go as far to say that NATO's presence in nearby countries such as Poland and the Balkans 'provoked' Russia, he expressed that the military alliance 'perhaps facilitated' the invasion by 'barking' as Putin's door. NATO and other countries supporting Ukraine have urged that Moscow has been the aggressor, massing its troops on the border in the months before the invasion launching its invasion of a sovereign country. It has been documented on Russian Telegram channels that Putin is very sick with a triple whammy of cancer, Parkinson's, and 'schizophrenic symptoms, which might justify his implacable bloodlust towards Ukraine. Instead, the head of the Catholic Church has been dealing with Patriarch Kirill of the Russian Orthodox Church, who is a full-blooded supporter of the fierce conflict. The war in Ukraine has strained relations between the two churches and caused a split among Orthodox Christians worldwide. In the interview, Francis said that when he had a 40-minute video conference with Kirill on March 16, the patriarch spent half of it reading from a sheet of paper 'with all the justifications for the war. Moscow describes its action in Ukraine as a 'special operation' to demilitarise and 'denazify' its neighbor. The Pope also said that when he met Viktor Orban on April 21, the Hungarian prime minister told him 'the Russian have a plan, that everything will end on May 9', referring to the anniversary of Russia's liberation at the end of World War II. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has said the anniversary would have no bearing on Moscow's military operations in Ukraine.