"We are waiting for explanations": Head of the UGCC reacts to Pope's statement about "great Russia" and makes a warning
The Holy See's representative office in Ukraine said that Pope Francis "has never called for imperialist ideas" amid his call for Russian youth to preserve the heritage of "great Russia". For its part, the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church noted that it was "painfully and anxiously" perceived such statements by the pontiff against the backdrop of the full-scale war of the aggressor country, the Russian Federation, against our country.
The positions are set out in the statements of the Apostolic Nunciature in Ukraine and the head of the UGCC, His Beatitude Metropolitan Sviatoslav Shevchuk. The Pontifical Nunciature redirected everything to the allegedly incorrect "interpretation of the media", but the UGCC stressed that they were waiting for a balanced explanation.
Thus, the representative office said that Pope Francis did not call on Catholic youth in Russia to follow the example of Emperor Peter I and Empress Catherine II, who were known for their imperialist and expansionist ideas and actions. This is allegedly an interpretation, because the Pope "did not say that".
"Pope Francis has never called for imperialist ideas. On the contrary, he is a strong opponent and critic of any form of imperialism or colonialism, in all peoples and situations. The words of the Roman Pontiff of 25 August should be interpreted in the same light," the Holy See's Mission in Ukraine said in a statement.
However, the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church reacted with "pain and concern" to Pope Francis' "great Russia". The head of the UGCC, Metropolitan Sviatoslav, expressed hope that these words of the Holy Father were spoken spontaneously, without any attempts at historical assessments, let alone support for Russia's imperialist ambitions.
He added: there is indeed a danger that what the pontiff said could be perceived as support for Russian nationalism and imperialism, which caused the war in Ukraine.
"The words about 'the great Russia of Peter I, Catherine II, that empire - great, enlightened, a country of great culture and great humanity' are the worst example of imperialism and extreme Russian nationalism," said the head of the UGCC.
He stressed that the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church expects a balanced explanation of this situation from the Holy See, as the statements attributed to Pope Francis "contradict his teaching on peace" and condemnation of all forms of imperialism.
Metropolitan Sviatoslav also stressed that in a few days, the bishops of the UGCC, who will gather for the Synod in Rome, will be able to personally convey to the pontiff "the doubts and pain of the Ukrainian people."
As reported, during a teleconference with Russian youth on 25 August, Pope Francis expressed his admiration for "great Russia" and called on the citizens of this terrorist state to "never give up (their) heritage".
"You are the heirs of great Russia: the great Russia of saints, rulers, the great Russia of Peter the Great, Catherine the Great, that empire - great, enlightened, great culture and great humanity. Never give up this heritage," the pontiff said.
In response, the spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, Oleh Nikolenko, noted that it is precisely this "imperialist propaganda", "spiritual bonds" and the "need" to save "Great Mother Russia" that the Kremlin is using to justify the killing of thousands of Ukrainians and the destruction of hundreds of Ukrainian towns and villages.
As reported by OBOZREVATEL, it is noteworthy that shortly before that, the head of the Catholic Church, Pope Francis, called on believers to pray for Ukraine. He asked for a special prayer because "Ukraine has long suffered because of the war".