Speaking at a book presentation of Lezioni ucraine (Ukrainian Lessons) by the Italian review of geopolitics, Limes, Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, the Holy See’s Secretary for Relations with States and International Organizations, illustrated “the position taken by the Holy Father regarding the war in Ukraine and the interpretation given to his words and gestures.”
The Liverpool-based archbishop noted that “it is indisputable, and it is also honest to acknowledge, that ‘the reaction of Ukrainians to Pope Francis’ statements reflects a deep disappointment'”. This also has been expressed both by Ukrainian government authorities and by various religious representatives of local churches and church communities, in some cases even recently. Reaction to the Pope’s public words and gestures and their interpretation can rightly be given with freedom and discretion.”
Desire for dialogue and peace
However, the Archbishop pointed out that “interpreting them as ‘acts of empty pacifism’ and expressions of the ‘theatrical genre of ‘pious wishful thinking'”, does not do justice to the vision and intentions of the Holy Father, who does not want to resign himself to war and is obstinate in believing in peace, inviting everyone to be its creative and courageous weavers and artisans.”
He further explained that “what motivates the Holy Father is nothing but the desire to make dialogue and peace possible, inspired by the principle that ‘the Church should not use the language of politics, but the language of Jesus.'”
He went on to say that everyone should recognize “that the Holy Father’s gestures and words are not the expression of a mere ‘rhetoric of peace,’ but of a strong and courageous ‘prophecy of peace,’ which challenges the reality of war and its supposed inevitability.”
This prophecy, however, is often rejected and condemned rather than being welcomed and supported, he acknowledged.
Solidarity and Christian closeness
Archbishop Gallagher recalled how the Apostolic Nuncio has remained in the Ukrainian capital, while other embassies have moved to Lviv, as a way to show “concrete Christian closeness to a martyred people and to favour peace.”
In this sense, it is “also noteworthy the involvement of the local Catholic Church, both of Latin and Eastern rite, and also of various Catholic charitable organizations, especially in the humanitarian sphere, without forgetting the numerous missions carried out in Ukraine by Cardinal Konrad Krajewski, His Holiness’ almoner”, he noted.
Calling these efforts an “embrace of charity,” Archbishop Gallagher said the Pope “has embraced the Ukrainian people, not leaving them alone in the suffering and tragedy they are experiencing.”
This brings to the forefront “the duty that we all have toward the truth….(and) the common responsibility to promote everything that could help to give a positive turn to the current tragedy.”
Working translation of excerpts of full article to be published by L’Osservatore Romano