Catholic leader of Ukraine shatters the Pope's “romantic ideas” about Russia


Eastern Europe


Supreme Archbishop Schevtchuk of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church. Photo Wikimedia Commons

Supreme Archbishop Schevtchuk of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church has criticised the Pope's statement about the Russian writer Dostoevsky. The Pope previously said that the author was an example of Russian humanism. That led to many critiques from the Ukrainian side.

During an audience, the Ukrainian Greek leader asked Pope Francis if he knew what Ukrainians said about him, Risu.ua wrote last week, based on an article of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church. As the Pope indicated this was not the case, Archbishop Schevtchuk told him that Ukrainians thought he had not read Dostoevsky properly. The Pope seemed to be surprised, Schevtchuk said.

The Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church looks as an Orthodox church from the outside. But the teaching and the hieararchy is the one from the Roman Catholic Church. That means that Schevtchuk is accountable to Pope Francis.


The Supreme Archbishop, furthermore, argued that he tried to explain to people in Rome that the Western world often has too romantic ideas about Russia. "I told the Pope that it reminded me of certain romantic ideas about Germany before the Second World War. People thought of the German philosophy of the 19th century and the examples of German culture, but the Nazis were in power."

The same happens in Russia, according to the Schevtchuk. "There are criminals in power, and the whole world today observes the facts of crimes against the Ukrainian people, their genocide. And the Pope simply could not believe that such alleged models of humanism could commit such a crime."

Schevtchuk stressed that the Ukrainians see the world very black and white and interpret the words of the Pope as him being on the Russian side. "If someone speaks positively about those who kill us, it starts to offend us very much."

When the Pope asked Schevtchuk what he could do to comfort the Ukrainians, the bishop told him to write a letter to the people of Ukraine.

The Pope adhered to this advice, and wrote a letter at the end of November, Katholisch.de reports. "Your pain is my pain", the Pope stated. He added that he carried the Ukrainians in his heart every day.


Supreme Archbishop Schevtchuk also appeals to the international community for the release of two priests. The Russians captured them and allegedly tortured them to extract false confessions. That is reported by Die Tagespost. The bishop, who is based in Kyiv, called in a statement on Friday for the release of the two Greek Catholic priests, who were captured on November 16. They served the Church of the Nativity of Mary in Berdyansk, West of Mariupol.



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