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Tags: pope francis | russia | ukraine | vladimir putin

Pope Reluctant to Criticize Russia

Pope Francis
Pope Francis. (Alberto Pizzoli/AFP via Getty Images)

By    |   Thursday, 24 February 2022 11:11 AM EST

While Pope Francis has been pleading for peace in Ukraine for weeks now, he has been reluctant to criticize Russia directly, Ukrainian Catholic Church officials said.

"People are afraid to say that Russia is an aggressor," said Daniel Galadza, "because it's either politically inconvenient or because Russia has extreme financial resources."

A deacon of the Kyiv Archeparchy of the Ukrainian Catholic Church and a liturgy professor at the Pontifical Oriental Institute in Rome, Galadza told National Catholic Reporter (NCR) that he would like the Holy See to speak more boldly about Russia's attempts to invade the country.

"What Ukraine needs is for the ability to speak the truth in love and not to be afraid to tell brothers and sisters in Christ that they also need to speak the truth in love," he said. "They should not talk in general terms about peace and Eastern Europe because that's the equivalent to saying, Thoughts and prayers."

The Holy See might desire peace in Ukraine, NCR reports, however, it is also seeking to continue its armistice with the Russian Orthodox Church, from which it has been separated since the Great Schism of 1054.

In 2016, Francis and Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill of Moscow made history in Cuba when the leaders of the Catholic and Russian Orthodox Church met for the first time ever and proclaimed, "We are brothers."

As diplomats, including those of the Holy See, scramble to prevent an all-out Russian war against Ukraine, which could be the biggest war in Europe since World War II, the Holy See is angling for a second meeting between the Pope and the patriarch.

Metropolitan-Archbishop Borys Gudziak of the Ukrainian Catholic Archeparchy of Philadelphia, who spent three weeks in Ukraine in early February, told NCR that he understands Vatican officials may be limited in how forcefully they can speak about the situation publicly.

"We don't always like to point the finger directly at sinners," he said, but added that he would like the Holy See to "encourage the Russian Orthodox Church to be at least somewhat prophetic" given the current circumstances.

During his two-decade tenure, Russian President Vladimir Putin has had a utilitarian relationship with the Russian Orthodox Church, Gudziak said, where he has used the church to gain power and church leadership has given him its backing.

"The Russian Orthodox Church is formulating colonial policy for Russian society," Gudziak said, adding that Russia's latest aggression towards Ukraine shows this and he would like the Holy See to challenge Russian Orthodox leaders on this point.

"Pope Francis has said many times that whenever Christians get caught up in power and money, we betray our vocations," he said. "When we are behind invasion and war, it's scandalous."

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While Pope Francis has been pleading for peace in Ukraine for weeks now, he has been reluctant to criticize Russia directly, Ukrainian Catholic Church officials said.
pope francis, russia, ukraine, vladimir putin
452
2022-11-24
Thursday, 24 February 2022 11:11 AM
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