Ukraine’s Vatican ambassador rebukes Pope Francis for mention of Moscow car bomb victim

Pope Francis receives Ukraine's ambassador to the Holy See, Andrii Yurash, on April 7, 2022 Pope Francis receives Ukraine's ambassador to the Holy See, Andrii Yurash, April 7, 2022 | Vatican Media

Ukraine’s ambassador to the Holy See criticized Pope Francis on Wednesday for lamenting the car bombing that killed the daughter of an ally of Russian President Vladmir Putin.

Speaking at his general audience on Aug. 24, Pope Francis issued an appeal to end the war in Ukraine. 

“I renew my invitation to implore peace from the Lord for the beloved Ukrainian people who for six months today have been suffering the horror of war. I hope that concrete steps will be taken to put an end to the war and to avert the risk of a nuclear disaster in Zaporizhzhia,” the Holy Father said.

Referring to the Aug. 20 death of Darya Dugina, a 29-year-old journalist and political commentator known for her support of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the pope said:

“I think of that poor girl blown up by a bomb under her car seat in Moscow. The innocent pay for war, the innocent! Let us think about this reality and say to each other: war is madness.”

Dugina was the daughter of Aleksandr Dugin, a Russian political thinker, believed to be close to Putin.

After the pope’s remarks, Andrii Yurash, who became Ukraine’s ambassador to the Vatican in April, rebuked Pope Francis on Twitter.

“Today’s speech of Pope was disappointing and made me think about many things: can’t speak in same categories about aggressor and victim, rapist and raped; how possible to mention one of ideologists of Imperialism as innocent victim? She was killed by Russians as sacred victim and is now on shield of war.”

Russia has accused Ukrainian special services of orchestrating the car bombing that killed Dugina, CNN reported

Oleksii Danylov, secretary of Ukraine's National Security Council, denied the allegation on Monday.

“We have nothing to do with the murder of this lady — this is the work of the Russian special services,” Danylov said.

CNA reported today that a hoped-for meeting between Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and Pope Francis at an interreligious summit in Kazakhstan in September will not take place as planned. 

There had been speculation that the two leaders might meet in person, possibly in Jerusalem.

Metropolitan Anthony of Volokolamsk, the head of the Russian Church’s Department for External Church Relations, told RIA-Novosti that the Vatican scrubbed plans for the meeting months ago.

“In the spring of this year, to our deep surprise, the Vatican unilaterally publicly announced that preparations for the meeting had been suspended, and that this meeting itself wouldn’t take place,” Anthony told RIA-Novosti.

On July 10, Yurash, Ukraine’s envoy to the Vatican, in an interview with Radio Liberty, said that he had been working to prevent the meeting from taking place.

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 “The head of the Holy See speaks about a possible meeting with Kirill in September in Kazakhstan on the sidelines of the General Assembly. But we, diplomats, are doing everything possible to prevent the meeting from taking place: it will neither benefit the ecumenical dialogue nor add authority to the Apostolic capital because we are talking about a meeting with the devil’s advocate,” Yurash said.

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