VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The head of the Ukrainian Catholic Church asked Pope Francis to scrap plans to have a Ukrainian woman and a Russian woman carry the cross together during the pope’s Way of the Cross service at Rome’s Colosseum April 15.
Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk, major archbishop of the Ukrainian Catholic Church, said April 12, “I consider such an idea untimely, ambiguous and such that it does not take into account the context of Russia’s military aggression against Ukraine.”
For Eastern Catholics in Ukraine, he said, “the texts and gestures of the 13th station of this Way of the Cross are incoherent and even offensive, especially in the context of the expected second, even bloodier attack of Russian troops on our cities and villages.”
The meditation for the 13th station, which the Vatican said was written by a Ukrainian family and a Russian family, speaks of “death everywhere” and asks, “Where are you, Lord? Where are you hiding? We want our life back as before. Why all of this? What wrong did we do? Why have you forsaken us? Why have you forsaken our peoples?”
But it also ponders “how difficult it will be to reconcile ourselves to all this. Lord, where are you? Speak to us amid the silence of death and division, and teach us to be peacemakers, brothers and sisters, and to rebuild what bombs tried to destroy.”
Before Archbishop Shevchuk issued his statement, Andrii Yurash, Ukraine’s ambassador to the Holy See, had tweeted that his embassy “understands and shares the general concern in Ukraine and many other communities” about the idea of bringing a Ukrainian and a Russian together to carry the cross at the service.
“Now we are working on the issue, trying to explain (the) difficulties of its realization and possible consequences,” he tweeted.
The statement from Archbishop Shevchuk’s office said he, too, “conveyed to the Vatican the numerous negative reactions of many bishops, priests, monks and nuns, and laity who are convinced that gestures of reconciliation between our peoples will be possible only when the war is over and those guilty of crimes against humanity are justly condemned.”
“I hope that my request, the request of the faithful of our church, the request of the faithful of the Roman Catholic Church in Ukraine will be heard,” the archbishop said.
Archbishop Visvaldas Kulbokas, apostolic nuncio to Ukraine, told the Catholic magazine Credo April 12 he had conveyed the reactions to the Vatican.
He said he would not have organized the Way of the Cross in this manner, noting: “Reconciliation must come when aggression is stopped, when Ukrainians will be able not only to save their lives but also their freedom. And, of course, we know that reconciliation occurs when the aggressor admits their guilt and apologizes.”
He also said it was possible the Vatican would change its plan: “Let us wait and see the final version.”
Join the CatholicPhilly.com family
CatholicPhilly.com works to strengthen the connections between people, families and communities every day by delivering the news people need to know about the Catholic Church, especially in the Philadelphia region, and the world in which we live.
By your donation in any amount, you and hundreds of other people become part of our mission to inform, form in the Catholic faith and inspire the thousands of readers who visit every month.
Here is how you can help:
- A $100 gift allows us to present award-winning photos of Catholic life in our neighborhoods.
- A $50 gift enables us to cover a news event in a local parish, school or Catholic institution.
- A $20 gift lets us obtain solid faith formation resources that can deepen your spirituality and knowledge of the faith.
- A small, automated monthly donation means you can support us continually and easily.
Won't you consider making a gift today?
Please join in the church's vital mission of communications by offering a gift in whatever amount that you can ― a single gift of $40, $50, $100, or more, or a monthly donation. Your gift will strengthen the fabric of our entire Catholic community and sustain CatholicPhilly.com as your trusted news source. Thank you in advance!
Make your donation by credit card here:
Or make your donation by check:
222 N. 17th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103