Ukrainians protest against Pope’s Good Friday reconciliation gesture – POLITICO

ROME – A Good Friday evening procession led by the Pope, in which a Russian and a Ukrainian woman will carry a cross together, has met with opposition from Ukrainians, who have called them “incomprehensible” and “inadequate”.

The Ambassador of Ukraine to the Holy See also protested the decision to allow women to participate in the annual Way of the Cross, which commemorates the stages of Christ’s crucifixion.

The two women friends, Ukrainian nurse Irina and Russian nursing student Albina, are expected to shake hands in silence while holding the cross.

Andriy YurashAmbassador of Ukraine to the Holy See wrote on Twitter that there were “concerns in Ukraine and other communities” and said he was working “to try to explain the difficulties and possible consequences”.

Greek Catholic Archbishop of Kyiv Svyatoslav Shevchuk called the idea “inappropriate and ambiguous and does not take into account the context of Russian military aggression against Ukraine”.

In a statement Tuesday, he said the gesture was “incoherent and even offensive, especially as we await the second, bloodier attack by Russian troops on our towns and villages.”

Shevchuk said numerous Ukrainian Catholics had asked him “to convey to the Holy See their outrage and opposition to this project.” For them, reconciliation “will not be possible until the war is over and those guilty of crimes against humanity are brought to justice,” he said.

Pope Francis has long sought to mend ties with Patriarch Kirill of Moscow, head of the Russian Orthodox Church, a key supporter of President Vladimir Putin, who sanctioned the war. Although Francis has himself condemned the invasion as “sacrilegious,” he has avoided directly criticizing Putin by name, instead calling him “some potentate.”

The Bishop of Kyiv for the Latin Rite, Monsignor Vitalii Kryvytsky, told Italian religious news agency Lord that he “shared the pain of his compatriots” and had done everything “to make clear the inadequacy of this liturgical gesture in the context of this terrible war and its possible planned aggravation”.

The Apostolic Nuncio to Ukraine, the Vatican equivalent of an ambassador, Monsignor Visvaldas Kulbokas, called he had communicated the protests of the Ukrainians to the Holy See. He explained the decision by saying: “Under the cross we are all children of God, attackers and attacked, in this case Russia and Ukraine.”

“The churches and religious organizations in Ukraine want to work towards reconciliation, but know that they can only speak about it once the aggression stops.”

The Vatican press office did not respond to calls Friday. Ukrainians protest against Pope's Good Friday reconciliation gesture – POLITICO

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