General Audience of Pope Francis. Photo: Vatican Media

Holy See clarifies Pope’s remarks on Russian “imperialism”

But while the Pope’s words aroused reprobation in Ukraine, they elicited positive comments in Russia.

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Valentina di Giorgio

(ZENIT News / Ciudad del Vaticano, 08.29.2023).- Following the diplomatic tension arising from remarks made by the Pope to young people during a gathering for Catholics in Russia, on the morning of Tuesday, August 29th, the spokesperson for the Holy See Press Office, Matteo Bruni, stated that “In his words of greeting addressed to some young Russian Catholics in recent days, as is evident from the context in which he pronounced them, the Pope intended to encourage young people to preserve and promote the positive elements of Russia’s great cultural and spiritual heritage, and certainly not to exalt imperialistic logics and governmental personalisms, cited to refer to certain historical periods.”

However, while the Pope’s words were met with disapproval in Ukraine, they elicited positive comments in Russia. The spokesperson for the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Maria Zakharova, stated to the Italian media ANSA that she “greatly appreciates the Vatican’s balanced stance on the conflict in Ukraine and the efforts of the Holy See and Pope Francis personally to seek a peaceful solution, which has been openly rejected by the Kiev regime.” In turn, the Kremlin spokesperson, Dmitry Peskov, said that “The Pope is knowledgeable about Russian history and this is very positive. It’s truly profound, it has deep roots. This legacy should be constantly passed on to our young people” and this must be remembered.” He also criticized the Ukrainian government, saying, “It’s not the first time that Ukrainians criticize Pope Francis for his aspirations towards Russia. Previously, Kiev had rejected Francis’ mediation proposals to achieve peace in Ukraine.”

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