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Amid protests over Ukraine-Russia teamwork on Via Crucis, some say we need this ‘prophetic sign’


Antoine Mekary | ALETEIA

I.Media - published on 04/13/22

Families from the 2 countries worked together to write 13th Station reflection, and a Ukrainian woman and Russian woman are to carry cross together.

Some senior Ukrainian officials have criticized the idea of two Ukrainian and Russian women carrying the cross together during the Via Crucis to be held at the Colosseum with the Pope on Good Friday, April 15.

The Holy See has not reacted to the comments from Ukraine. The text of the Via Crucis meditations, already published, does note that the 13th station of the Way of the Cross was prepared by Russian and Ukrainian families.

Families in various situations — migrants, grandparents, adoptive, childless, etc — prepared this year’s meditations.

The new Ukrainian ambassador to the Holy See, Andrii Yurash, was the first to tweet on April 12, 2022, expressing his concern about the project.

Yurash was appointed ambassador to the Holy See on March 3 and presented his credentials to Pope Francis only last week, on April 7.

Criticism from the Ukrainian Greek Catholic hierarchy

“Such an idea is inappropriate, ambiguous, and such that it does not take into account the context of Russia’s military aggression against Ukraine,” said the major archbishop of the Greek Catholic Church, Sviatoslav Shevchuk, in a statement issued April 12.

According to him, “the texts and gestures of the 13th station of the Stations of the Cross are inconsistent and even offensive” in the current context.

The Ukrainian prelate said that he had passed on to the Vatican the numerous negative reactions of “many bishops, priests, monks, nuns and lay people” who consider that such a gesture of Russian and Ukrainian families uniting will only be possible “when the war is over and those guilty of crimes against humanity are justly condemned.”

Nuncio in Ukraine under pressure

The Apostolic Nuncio to Ukraine, Archbishop Visvaldas Kulbokas, confirmed to the Ukrainian press that he had passed on these negative reactions to the Vatican on April 12, affirming that “reconciliation must come when the aggression is over.”

He stressed, however, that the prayer is not a political act.

The Pontiff’s representative to Ukraine suggested that it was always possible that the Holy See might come to change the form of this “sign.”

“Let’s wait to see the final version,” he concluded.

The Ukrainian ambassador to the Holy See highlighted the nuncio’s intervention on Twitter, urging the Holy See to listen to “his many arguments.”

“A prophetic sign”

Reacting to the situation, Jesuit priest Antonio Spadaro, a close friend of the Pope, took to the Italian channel RaiNews24, saying that Pope Francis is “a pastor” who “proclaims the Gospel.”

“He is not a political party […] We need someone who gives a prophetic sign at this time,” added the head of La Civiltà Cattolica magazine.

The 13th station of the Stations of the Cross, Jesus Dies on the Cross, includes this prayer from the Russian and Ukrainian families who prepared the text:

Lord where are you? Speak to us amid the silence of death and division, and teach us to be peacemakers, brothers and sisters, and to rebuild what bombs tried to destroy.

Holy WeekRussiaUkraine
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