RUSSIA - VATICAN - Patriarch of Moscow thanks Vatican for "balanced position on the crisis in Ukraine" [AN]

However Kirill unsparingly attacks the Greek-Catholic church, claiming it is “too politicized” and “supporters of anti-Russian positions”. “Relations with the Holy See demonstrate positive dynamics.”

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At the conclusion of his February 4 general audience, Pope Francis appealed for peace and dialogue in Ukraine.“Unfortunately the situation is worsening,” he said. "Let us pray the Lord …

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http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/images/size340/Pope_Francis_prays_with_journalists_on_the_papal_flight_en_route_to_South_Korea_on_Aug_14_2014_Credit_Alan_Holdren_CNA.jpgVatican City, Feb 4, 2015 / 07:07 am (CNA/EWTN News).- As the number of deaths in Ukraine continue to rise amid escalating violence, Pope Francis has called the war “a scandal,” and urged the international community to “make every effort” for peace.

“My thoughts turn again to the beloved Ukrainian people. Unfortunately the situation is getting worse (as is) the grave opposition between parties,” the Pope told those present in the Vatican’s Paul VI Hall for his Feb. 4 general audience.

He offered prayers for the victims of the increasing violence, “of which there are many civilians,” as well as their families, and prayed that “this horrible fratricidal violence will cease as soon as possible.”

Casualties have continued to increase as violence has escalated. Up to 16 new civilian lives were claimed and more were injured following shelling in Donetsk on Tuesday, BBC News reports.

U.N. figures show the death toll in Ukraine now exceeds 5,350 people, plus more than 12,000 others who have been wounded since fighting broke out last year. An exact number, however, is not confirmed.

Last February Ukraine’s former president was ousted following months of violent protest, and a new government appointed. In March, Ukraine’s eastern peninsula of Crimea was annexed by Russia and pro-Russian separatist rebels have since taken control of eastern portions of Ukraine, around Donetsk and Luhansk.

Persecution of both Roman and Greek Catholics has also been an increasing concern with the influx of Russian soldiers and pro-Russian separatists into the country.

In September the apostolic nuncio to the Ukraine, Archbishop Thomas Gullikson, voiced concern that Russia’s expansion into the country has caused major instability and threatens a return to former political persecution.

He told CNA that “The danger of repression of the Greek-Catholic Church exists in whatever part of Ukraine Russia might establish its predominance or continue through acts of terrorism to push forward with its aggression.”

“There is no reason for excluding the possibility of another wholesale repression of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church as came about in 1946 with the complicity of the Orthodox brethren and the blessing of Moscow,” the nuncio said.

The Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church was severely persecuted in the country while it was a part of the Soviet Union.

So far many Roman Catholic and Greek Catholic clergy have been forced to leave Crimea due to the conflict. Both Roman and Greek Catholics are facing difficulties in properly registering ownership of church property and in ensuring legal residency for their clergy.

In his audience address, Pope Francis renewed his “heartfelt appeal” for all parties involved “to make every effort, also on an international level, for the resumption of dialogue, which is the only possible way to restore peace and harmony in that tormented land.”

The pontiff revealed that whenever he hears the words “victory” or “defeat” in regards to the current conflict, he feels a “great pain, a great sadness” in his heart.

With no “right words” to describe the situation, the pontiff said the only word that is always right “is peace.”

“I think of you, Ukrainian brothers and sisters, but (also) think that this is a war between Christians! All of you have the same baptism! You are fighting among Christians. Think about this. This is a scandal,” he said.

Pope Francis closed his audience by encouraging all to pray together for an end to the conflict, “because prayer is our protest before God in times of war.”

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Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill of Moscow praised the Vatican’s “balanced” public stance on the conflict in Ukraine, while denouncing the “Russophobic” attitude of the Ukrainian Catholic …

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Good to hear the Patriarch and our Pope are on the same page.
:thumbsup:

Rading the thread title (Patriarch of Moscow thanks Vatican for “balanced position on the crisis in Ukraine”) I thought “Wow, that is much much more positive than I would expect, given the comments that posters on the Internet have made” – and I’m still saying that, notwithstanding noting that not everything in those article is so positive.

P.S. is it possible that popes and patriarchs know what they are talking about better than an Internet discussion forum does?:hmm:

If the Patriarch is thanking the Pope, maybe the Pope needs to speak a little more strongly against pro-Russian aggression against the Ukrainian Greek CATHOLIC Church. Moscow has been expansionist into old Soviet territories for far too long, and the Russian Orthodox Patriarch seems to play into it because it benefits his authority to do so.

That agression runs both ways and there are those in both Churches who are not a credit to their respective Churches.

… the Pope must be doing something wrong!

:slight_smile:

What pro-Russian aggression against the UGCC?

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