Pope Francis desires to have peace between Ukraine and the Vatican. However, the Ukrainian foreign ministry disagreed with the Vatican's decision to treat the roles of victim and perpetrator in the Stations of the Cross held on Good Friday.
A report from the Ukrainska Pravda stated that the Vatican had decided to combine the testimony of Ukrainian and Russian youngsters during the procession in the Colosseum on Friday, Apr. 7. This decision was made even though a similar project with two ladies resulted in an uproar in Ukraine the previous year.
'Equating Victim and Aggressor' Decision of Vatican
According to the Catholic News Agency, Pope Francis has repeatedly called for peace in Ukraine. However, the Ukrainian official noted that the juxtaposition of the two young people's statements was not "conducive to reconciliation" because it failed to acknowledge Russia's role as the aggressor in the conflict.
On Sunday, Apr. 8, Oleg Nikolenko, the Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson, wrote a Facebook post. He said that they appreciate Pope Francis for his compassion for Ukraine and the people of Ukraine.
Yet, they must declare that an attempt to associate the victim with the attacker was again the primary focus of attention during this year's procession. "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," he added.
As mentioned, the joint participation by a Ukrainian and a Russian alters the reality into which Russia threw Ukrainians, symbolizing the crimes committed against them. Attempting to place an equal sign between Russia, which is causing agony, and Ukraine, which is suffering, is not beneficial to reconciling the situation.
Only after a Ukrainian triumph, the conviction and punishment of all Russian offenders, sincere regret for the misery caused, and a sincere appeal for forgiveness from Ukrainians is reconciliation. Moreover, it is not the first time that the leaders of Ukraine have taken issue with what the Vatican has said regarding Russia's involvement in the conflict in Ukraine.
Criticism of Ukraine's Foreign Ministry on Vatican
Based on a report from the National Catholic Register, it sparked considerable controversy when it was reported that Ukrainian and Russian families would be carrying the Cross together during the Way of the Cross last year. Initially written for the thirteenth station of the Cross, the meditation was meant to reflect the horrors of war, but it did not specifically mention Ukraine.
In addition, Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk, who is in charge of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, was quite critical of the original proposal and branded it as "untimely." At the end of the ceremony, there was no reflection read; instead, there was a period of silence during which the Cross was held by two friends, Irina from Ukraine, and Albina, from Russia.
Also, in August of 2022, the Ukrainian representative to the Holy See was heard criticizing Pope Francis for his reaction to the news that the daughter of a supporter of Russian President Vladimir Putin had been killed in a car bombing. Ambassador Andrii Yurash disagreed with Pope Francis's characterization of the dead woman as an "innocent victim."