Monday, September 29, 2014

Window on Eurasia: Papal Nuncio in Kyiv Denounces Russian Aggression in Ukraine

Paul Goble


            Staunton, September 29 – Archbishop Thomas Gullickson, the apostolic nuncio in Kyiv, has denounced Moscow for conduct “an undeclared war” against Ukraine that has destabilized the situation of that neighboring state. This follows his earlier call for the West to “more decisively intervene” to resolve the Ukrainian crisis.


            At the same time, Gullickson, 64 and born in the United States, said that in addition to Moscow, Ukraine has “another enemy, its own elite.”  And he called on religious organizations in Ukraine to “more objectively analyze” what is going on rather than seek to win points for themselves by speaking out one way or another (


            The nuncio made these points at a meeting of Aid to the Church in Need organization. He said that Ukraine’s destabilization had “to a significant degree” occurred because of the actions of its earlier “criminal oligarchy” but had been intensified by “Russian aggression against its territorial integrity and sovereignty.”


            “Even if Moscow’s intervention ended tomorrow,” the archbishop said, “Ukraine besides the rehabilitation of the east would have to deal with some extraordinary challenges in order to escape from corruption and build a just society.”


            The nuncio added that in his view, “the military actions in Ukraine directly touch on the Catholic Church because of ‘the essential harm’ inflicted on its churches” and because some Catholics “have been forced to leave the territory of Ukraine which has been ‘occupied’ by Russia.”


            Not surprisingly, the Moscow Patriarchate of the Russian Orthodox Church does not agree with the papal nuncio, but its reaction so far has been remarkably measured compared to many of its other statements about Ukrainian developments.


            Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin, the head of the synod’s department for relations between the church and society, said Moscow has heard all this before from those who “stand on one side in a civil conflict – and this is precisely one of those” even though on each side of the conflict there are people with differing views on the future of Ukraine, Europe and the world.


            “We would like to hope,” he said, “that all religious communities in Europe, in the world, in Ukraine and in Russia will be able to take into consideration the feelings, aspirations and interests of people who are on both sides of the conflict in the way that the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate is doing.”     


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