УК

Head of the UGCC Responds to Controversy Over Pope Francis’ Comments During the Meeting with Catholic Youth in Russia

August 28, 2023, 20:48 5080

Pope Francis spoke with the Catholic youth of Russia online on August 25, 2023, as part of the X All-Russian Meeting of Catholic Youth held in St. Petersburg.

Head of the UGCC Responds to Controversy Over Pope Francis’ Comments During the Meeting with Catholic Youth in Russia
Teleconference with Pope Francis at the X All-Russian Meeting of Catholic Youth in St. Petersburg, August 25, photo: Vatican News

Українською, in Italiano

Statement of His Beatitude Sviatoslav, Head and Father of the UGCC, regarding the discussion regarding some of the statements of the Holy Father Francis at the meeting with the Catholic youth of Russia on August 25, 2023

It is with great pain and concern that we learned of the words attributed to His Holiness Pope Francis at an online meeting with Russian Catholic youth on August 25, 2023, in St. Petersburg. We hope that these words of the Holy Father were spoken spontaneously, without any attempt at historical evaluations, let alone support of Russia’s imperialist ambitions. Nonetheless, we share the great pain which they caused, not only among the episcopate, clergy, monastics, and faithful of our Church, but also among other denominations and religious organizations. At the same time, we are also aware of the deep disappointment that they have caused in society.

The words about “the great Russia of Peter I, Catherine II, that great, enlightened empire — a country of great culture and great humanity” — are the worst example of imperialism and extreme Russian nationalism. There is a danger that these words could be taken as supporting the very nationalism and imperialism that has caused the war in Ukraine today — a war that brings death and destruction to our people every day.

The examples given by the Holy Father actually contradict his teachings on peace, since he has always condemned any form of manifestation of imperialism in the modern world and warned of the dangers of extreme nationalism, stressing that it is the cause of the “third world war in segments.”

As a Church, we wish to state that in the context of Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, such statements inspire the neo-colonial ambitions of the aggressor country, even though such a way of “being Russian” should be categorically condemned.

In order to avoid any manipulation of the intentions, context and statements attributed to the Holy Father, we await a clarification of this situation from the Holy See.

The Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church, together with all citizens of our country, condemns the ideology of the “Russian world” and the entire criminal way of “being Russian”. We hope the Holy Father will hear our voice.

In a few days, the bishops of our Church will come together in Rome for the annual Synod of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church. We will have the opportunity to meet His Holiness and personally convey to him the doubts and pain of the Ukrainian people, trusting in his paternal care for them.

† Sviatoslav

See also