While expressing criticism for the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church's stance in the conflict between Russian-backed rebels and Ukraine, Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia praised the Vatican's "balanced approach toward the Ukrainian crisis."

Interfax news service reported that the Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church said that policies pursued by the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church "are causing concern in our relations with the Roman Catholic Church.

Patriarch Kirill stated that the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church "pushed for the overthrow of the authorities using nationalistic and often 'Russophopic' slogans as its cover."

However, the Orthodox Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia praised the Holy See's stance for a halt to the conflict and appealing for peace on both sides.

"I would like to note with satisfaction that the Holy See itself has always pursued a balanced stance toward the situation in Ukraine and has avoided any lop-sided assessments, but has called for peace talks and an end to armed clashes," he said.

The relationship between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church, he concluded, "demonstrate positive dynamics, primarily thanks to their clear understanding of the need for Orthodox and Catholic believers to act jointly in order to protect traditional Christian values and counter modern challenges such as secularism, discrimination of Christians, family crisis and the dilution of moral principles in private and social life."

Earlier today, Pope Francis renewed his appeal for peace in Ukraine calling for both sides to lay down their arms.

"I think of you, brothers and sisters of Ukraine," he said. "But think about this, this is a war among Christians! You have your Baptism, you are fighting among Christians! Think about this, this scandal! And let us pray so that prayer may be our protest in front of God in times of war."