The Vatican tried Tuesday to clarify the pope’s stance on Ukraine, following the pope’s remark about the death of the daughter of a Russian ultranationalist with ruffles in Kiev.
“The Holy Father’s words on this dramatic issue should be read as a voice raised in defense of human life and its values, and not as political positions,” the Vatican said in a statement.
It stressed that the war in Ukraine had been “initiated by the Russian Federation” and that Pope Francis had been “clear and unequivocal in condemning it as morally unjust, unacceptable, barbaric, senseless, abhorrent and sacrilegious.”
Speaking on Ukraine’s Independence Day on August 24, the Pope said of the conflict: “So many innocents… pay for madness.”
He cited as an example Daria Dugina – the daughter of a Russian ultra-nationalist ally of President Vladimir Putin – who was killed when a bomb exploded under her car.
Ukraine’s ambassador to the Holy See, Andriy Yurash, replied that the Pope should not have placed “aggressor and victim” in the same category and the Vatican’s envoy in Kiev was called to the foreign ministry to explain.
Pope Francis, who has repeatedly condemned the conflict, has been criticized on several occasions in some quarters for not painting the war black and white and leaving the door open for discussions with Moscow.
“Someone can say to me right now: but you are pro-Putin! No, I am not,” the Pope emphasized in an interview published in June by the Jesuit magazine Civilta Cattolica.
“I’m just against reducing complexity to … good guys and bad guys, without reasoning about roots and interests, which are very complex.”
In July, the head of the Roman Catholic Church reiterated his wish to visit Ukraine.
The 85-year-old pope will attend a conference of religious leaders in Kazakhstan in mid-September.
Patriarch Kirill, the leader of the Russian Orthodox Church and a staunch supporter of both Putin and his war in Ukraine, should have attended the congress but has now said he will not.