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Ukrainian Catholic leader renews criticism of statement by Pope, Russian patriarch

February 24, 2016

The head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church has renewed his criticism of portions of the recent joint statement of Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill of Moscow but said he was moved by Pope Francis’s reference to their friendship during a recent press conference.

Following the February 12 joint statement, Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk said that many members of his flock “feel betrayed by the Vatican, disappointed by the half-truth nature of this document, and even see it as indirect support by the Apostolic See for Russian aggression against Ukraine. I can certainly understand those feelings.”

As Pope Francis returned to Rome from Mexico on February 17, he spoke of his friendship with Major Archbishop Shevchuk when both ministered in Argentina.

The Pope’s words were “truly the opening of the doors of mercy,” the prelate told Catholic News Service. “He is inviting us to lower our voices. You cannot have a dialogue shouting.”

At the same time, as he renewed his criticism of portions of the joint statement, he said that the document “is not the word of God, it is not a page of the Holy Gospel,” but “only a tool to start true, sincere dialogue.”


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