ROME — Ukraine’s Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk has criticized “Vatican dreamers” for seeking premature reconciliation between Ukraine and Russia as military aggression continues.
“To be reconciled, one must at least be alive,” Bishop Shevchuk said Friday in an interview with Radio Ukraine.
The Archbishop’s comments were prompted by the Vatican’s Via Crucis (Stations of the Cross) celebrated Friday at the Colosseum in Rome, during which a Russian and a Ukrainian woman carried the cross together for the thirteenth station, a situation that has caused a wave of indignation among Ukrainians.
This year, “some of those Vatican dreamers who dream of peace between nations, brotherhood and unity came up with the idea of making gestures of reconciliation between Russians and Ukrainians along the way of the cross,” Shevchuk noted. , a gesture that has been replicated elsewhere in Italy, Poland and Germany.
“While we all expect a new offensive by Russian troops on Ukraine, such moves are in principle impossible,” Shevchuk said. “After all, to be reconciled, you must at least be alive.”
“And although there is an active phase of such a deadly war, now is not the time to talk about reconciliation,” he added. “We have to stop killing each other first, then we can talk about the next steps.”
The Archbishop maintained that the next step should be “to condemn the culprit and establish justice,” whereby all “crimes against Ukraine must be condemned by an international tribunal.”
“Only after the conviction of the Russian aggressor can there be the start of a process of reconciliation, and it will be a long road,” he said. “Because the process of reconciliation means healing the wound, it is respecting the wounds of the victim.”
“And without sensitivity to the victim of this unjust assault, we have no Christian right to speak of reconciliation,” he said.
Shevchuk noted that it was the Pope’s Apostolic Nuncio (Ambassador) to Ukraine, Archbishop Visvaldas Kulbokas, who first criticized the Vatican’s attempt to “coerce peace.”
“He was the first to inform the Holy See that Ukrainians are experiencing these premature reconciliation plans with pain,” Shevchuk said.
The prelate also expressed his hope that Pope Francis will visit Ukraine soon. “It would be a powerful sign of solidarity and support for Ukraine and the Ukrainian people in these difficult and bloody times,” he said.