Ukraine’s Catholic bishops tell pope that his praise for Russia’s imperial past ‘pained’ Ukrainians

by | Sep 7, 2023 | Religion

ROME (AP) — Ukraine’s Greek Catholic bishops told Pope Francis on Wednesday that his words praising Russia’s imperial past had pained the Ukrainian people, bringing complaints about the Vatican’s diplomatic neutrality in Moscow’s war on their country to the heart of the Holy See.The bishops were in Rome for a periodic meeting and met with the pope in person for nearly two hours. They came an hour early, at 7 a.m. at the pope’s invitation, so he could listen to them without rushing, participants said.
While thanking Francis for his prayers, the bishops said certain statements and gestures from the pope and the Vatican “are painful and difficult for the Ukrainian people, who are currently bleeding in the struggle for their dignity and independence,” according to a statement from His Beatitude Sviatoslav Shevchuk, the head of the Greek Catholic church in Ukraine.
The 86-year-old Jesuit pope has angered both sides in the war. He has repeatedly expressed solidarity with the “martyred” Ukrainian people — 227 times by the Ukrainian bishops’ count — but has also refused to call out Russia or President Vladimir Putin by name. He has seemingly expressed understanding for the invasion Putin ordered by saying NATO was “barking at Russia’s door” by expanding east.
Ukraine’s Greek Catholics have felt betrayed by such comments and were outraged again last month when Francis praised imperial Russia during an …

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