Talk to us

CathNews, the most frequently visited Catholic website in Australia, is your daily news service featuring Catholics and Catholicism from home and around the world, Mass on Demand and on line, prayer, meditation, reflections, opinion, and reviews. And, what's more - it's free!

Pope Francis speaks with Russian youth in St Petersburg via video link on Friday (Vatican Media)

After the leader of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church expressed “great pain and concern” at Pope Francis’ recent video message to young Russian Catholics, the Vatican said that the Pope did not intend to exalt Russian imperialism. Source: CNA.

Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said yesterday that “the Pope intended to encourage young people to preserve and promote what is positive in Russia’s great cultural and spiritual heritage, and certainly not to glorify imperialistic logic and government personalities”.

The statement came in response to concern from Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church over Pope Francis’ words referring to “the great Russia of Peter I, Catherine II, that great and enlightened Russian empire of much culture and much humanity”.

Pope Francis made the comment while speaking off the cuff during a live video conference with Russian youth on Friday.

The remarks were made in Italian after the Pope’s question-and-answer session with the youth, before the blessing, and were not included in the available livestream nor in the official transcript of Pope Francis’ speech released on Saturday by the Holy See Press Office.

The Pope’s words were published on the Moscow Archdiocese’s platform at the conclusion of the youth event on Sunday.

Pope Francis referenced Russian czars who expanded the Russian empire in centuries past and whom President Vladimir Putin previously invoked in justifying the full-scale invasion of Ukraine. 

The Ukrainian major archbishop responded with alarm. 

“There is a danger that these words could be taken as supporting the very nationalism and imperialism that has caused the war in Ukraine today — a war that brings death and destruction to our people every day,” Major Archbishop Shevchuk said.


Vatican reassures Ukrainian Catholics that Pope did not intend to praise Russian imperialism (By Alexey Gotovskiy and Courtney Mares, CNA)