Ukraine Monitor presents the latest news concerning internal and external matters of Ukraine – a unique country where the interests of the East and the West clash almost every day.
Date: 29 November 2022 Author: Grzegorz Kuczyński
Pope Francis Meets Ukrainian Catholic Leader at Vatican
Throughout the war, Pope Francis has been criticized by Ukraine for not directly condemning Moscow and Putin as well as not naming directly the invader and somewhat suggesting that Kyiv make concessions to appease the Kremlin. It is hence vital to emphasize the stance of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church whose followers are in communion with Rome.
The head of Ukraine’s Byzantine-rite Catholic Church met Pope Francis on November 7 during his first trip outside Ukraine since the Russian invasion on February 24. During the meeting, Pope Francis reiterated his closeness to the Ukrainian people in prayer and action. Shevchuk gave Francis a piece of shrapnel from a Russian mine that destroyed the facade of a church in Irpin in March. According to a press release from the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, the shrapnel was “a very symbolic gift, not only because Irpin is one of the first ‘martyr towns’ affected by Russian aggression against Ukraine but also because such pieces of land mine are extracted from the bodies of Ukrainian soldiers, civilians, and children, a visible sign of the destruction and death that war brings every day.” The archbishop said there could be no dialogue with Russia as long as Moscow considered the neighbor it invaded a colony to be subjugated. “The war in Ukraine is a colonial war and peace proposals by Russia are proposals of colonial pacification,” he said after meeting the pope at the Vatican. These proposals imply the negation of the existence of the Ukrainian people, their history, culture, and even their Church, according to Shevchuk. The leader of Ukraine’s Eastern-rite Catholics said he has invited Pope Francis to visit the country several times. It was his first time leaving Ukraine since Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine. About 10 percent of the population of Ukraine belongs to the Eastern, or Byzantine-rite, Catholic Church, mostly in western Ukraine. The attitude of Pope Francis toward Russia that some labeled as somewhat favorable to Moscow could be a blow to Ukrainian Catholics and Greek Catholics.
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