St. Louis, Mo., Apr 10, 2023 / 13:30 pm
A spokesman for Ukraine’s foreign ministry criticized the Vatican’s decision to have the words of two young people from Ukraine and Russia read aloud during Good Friday’s Stations of the Cross, held at the Colosseum in Rome, as part of prayers for peace in Ukraine.
Pope Francis has called for peace in Ukraine on numerous occasions, but the Ukrainian official said the juxtaposition of the words of the two young people was not “conducive to reconciliation” because it did not acknowledge Russia’s role as the aggressor in the war.
“We are deeply grateful to Pope Francis for his concern for Ukraine and Ukrainians. Unfortunately, we are forced to state that this year’s procession was once again overshadowed by an attempt to equate the victim and aggressor … We are disappointed that the Holy See did not take into account the arguments of the Ukrainian side about the offensive nature of such a gesture,” Oleg Nikolenko, spokesman of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, wrote in an April 8 Facebook post.
“The joint participation of a Ukrainian and a Russian distorts the reality in which Russia plunged Ukrainians, embodying genocide against them … Trying to put an equal sign between Ukraine, which is suffering, and Russia, which is causing suffering, is not conducive to reconciliation. Reconciliation can only come after a Ukrainian victory, punishment of all Russian criminals, repentance for the suffering caused, and a request for forgiveness from Ukrainians.”