Ukrainian Archbishop Criticizes ‘Vatican Dreamers’ over Russia War

Ukrainian Archbishop Criticizes ‘Vatican Dreamers’ over Russia War

ROME — Ukrainian Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk has criticized “Vatican dreamers” for seeking a premature reconciliation between Ukraine and Russia while military aggression continues.

“To be reconciled, one must at least be alive,” Archbishop Shevchuk said in an interview on Radio Ukraine Friday.

The archbishop’s comments were sparked by the Vatican’s Via Crucis (Way of the Cross) celebrated Friday in Rome’s Colosseum, during which a Russian and a Ukrainian woman carried the cross together for the thirteenth station, a situation that caused a wave of indignation among Ukrainians.

This year, “some of those Vatican dreamers who dream of peace between nations, brotherhood, and unity came up with the idea of ​​making gestures of reconciliation between Russians and Ukrainians along the Way of the Cross,” Shevchuk noted, a gesture that was replicated elsewhere in Italy, Poland, and Germany.

“When we are all expecting another offensive by Russian troops on Ukraine, such gestures are in principle impossible,” Shevchuk said. “After all, to be reconciled, you must at least be alive.”

“And while there is an active phase of such a deadly war, it is not time to talk about reconciliation,” he added. “We must first stop killing each other, and then we can talk about the next steps.”

The body of a serviceman is coated in snow as a man takes photos of a destroyed Russian military multiple rocket launcher vehicle on the outskirts of Kharkiv, Ukraine, Friday, Feb. 25, 2022. Russian troops bore down on Ukraine's capital Friday, with gunfire and explosions resonating ever closer to the government quarter, in an invasion of a democratic country that has fueled fears of wider war in Europe and triggered worldwide efforts to make Russia stop. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)

The body of a serviceman is coated in snow as a man takes photos of a destroyed Russian military multiple rocket launcher vehicle on the outskirts of Kharkiv, Ukraine, Friday, Feb. 25, 2022. Russian troops bore down on Ukraine’s capital Friday, with gunfire and explosions resonating ever closer to the government quarter, in an invasion of a democratic country that has fueled fears of wider war in Europe and triggered worldwide efforts to make Russia stop (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda).

The archbishop contended that the next step should be “to convict the offender and establish justice,” by which all “crimes against Ukraine must be convicted by an international tribunal.”

“Only after the conviction of the Russian aggressor can there be the beginning of a process of reconciliation, and it will be a long road,” he stated. “Because the process of reconciliation means healing the wound, it is respect for the victim’s wounds.”

“And without sensitivity to the victim of this unjust aggression, we have no Christian right to speak of reconciliation,” he said.

Shevchuk noted that it was the pope’s apostolic nuncio (ambassador) to Ukraine, Archbishop Visvaldas Kulbokas, who first criticized the Vatican’s attempt at “coercing peace.”

“He was the first to inform the Holy See that Ukrainians are experiencing these premature reconciliation projects with pain,” Shevchuk said.

The prelate also expressed his hope that Pope Francis will visit Ukraine soon. “It would be a powerful sign of solidarity and support for Ukraine and the Ukrainian people in difficult bloody times,” he said.

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