Ukrainian Catholic bishops rebuke Pope over his Russia comments
September 07, 2023
CWN Editor's Note: On September 6, Pope Francis met with the bishops of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church,
Philip Pullella of Reuters noted the differences between the Ukrainian bishops’ statement and the less candid Vatican statement on the meeting. The bishops told the Pope that “certain statements and gestures of ‘the Holy See and Your Holiness are painful and difficult for the Ukrainian people, who are currently bleeding in the struggle for their dignity and independence.’”
The Pope (according to the Ukrainian bishops) responded, “Returning from Mongolia, I stated that the real pain is when the cultural heritage of a people undergoes ‘dilution’ and is subjected to manipulations from the side of a certain state power, as a result of which it is transformed into an ideology that destroys and kills. It is a great tragedy when such an ideology intrudes into the Church and replaces the Gospel of Christ.”
“The fact that you doubted whom the Pope is with was particularly painful for the Ukrainian people,” the Pope added—as if it were the Ukrainian bishops’ reaction, and not the Pope’s words, that evoked consternation in Ukraine. “I want to assure you of my solidarity with you and constant prayerful closeness. I am with the Ukrainian people.”
The bishops gave the Pope the personal belongings of two priests taken captive by the Russians, “to thank him, first of all, for what he is doing to free Ukrainian prisoners,” and to “remind the Pope of the many other prisoners who remain in Russian prisons.”
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