A sad feature of Catholic history in the contemporary world is the selling out of Catholics by the Vatican in the name of ecumenism and/or diplomacy. Sandro Magister at his blog Chiesa, gives us a current example:
To these bishops and to their priests and faithful, when two weeks ago Jorge Mario Bergoglio had denounced to the world the war that is devastating their country, the words he had used had sounded terrible. “Fratricidal violence,” the pope had called it, putting everyone on a par, aggressors and victims.
And it had been even worse when Francis had looked up from the text and added on his own: “When I hear the words ‘victory’ or ‘defeat’ I feel a great pain, a great sadness in my heart. Those are not the right word; the only right word is ‘peace.’ Think about it, this is a war among Christians! All of you have the same baptism. You are fighting among Christians. Think about this scandal.”
The fact that Bergoglio has a soft spot for Russia had already been seen with the outbreak of war in Syria, when he called for a day of prayer and fasting to oppose the armed intervention of the United States and France against the regime of Damascus, and Vladimir Putin publicly praised him.
Then there is the influence of the ecumenical factor: of the 200 million Orthodox Christians in the world, 150 million belong to the patriarchate of Moscow and “of all Rus’,” and it is therefore with Moscow above all that the pope wants to cultivate good relations.
But the fact that the aggression of Russia against Ukraine, the armed occupation of its eastern border, the annexation of Crimea should have left the pope indifferent to “victory” or “defeat,” was intolerable for the sentiments of Ukrainian Catholics. All the more so in that these words of Pope Francis promptly brought the applause of Moscow, this time not from Putin but from Orthodox patriarch Kirill, who also has jurisdiction over the Orthodox of Ukraine.
Memories of the persecution of Ukrainian Catholics on the part of the Soviet regime are too fresh. Their Church, after the second world war, was literally annihilated, with countless martyrs killed in the most atrocious ways, crucified, walled up alive, drowned in boiling water.
It was the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 that brought this Church out of the catacombs. But its efforts to regain breathing space have been difficult and are still incomplete, with churches and homes in the hands of Orthodox bishops and priests.
Today the almost five million Ukrainian Catholics know very well that they are the true obstacle to the encounter between the pope of Rome and the patriarch of Moscow. But they will not agree to be sacrificed on the altar of this ecumenical dream.
The Vatican nuncio in Kiev, American archbishop Thomas E. Gullickson, appointed by Benedict XVI in 2011, has compared it to that of the Soviets in 1946, “with the complicity of the Orthodox brethren and the blessing of Moscow.” He even evoked “the lessons of ISIS and the so-called caliphate in Iraq and Syria,” to say that “such a tragedy” could also happen elsewhere.
The reports that the nuncio is sending to Rome are detailed and alarming. And Ukrainian Catholics have been furious to see how none of this has appeared in the words of Pope Francis. It is their conviction that in the Roman curia as well, as in Ukraine, the pro-Russian party has free rein and is influencing the pope.
On February 10 the secretariat of state responded to the protests of Ukrainian Catholics with a note, to “clarify that the pope has always intended to address all the interested parties, trusting in the sincere effort of each one to apply the agreements reached by common accord and recalling the principle of international law.”
But this slight reference to legality was certainly not enough to worry Moscow, certain by now that its annexation of Crimea has in fact been accepted by all, including the Vatican, and that for the Donbas, Russianized and with no more Catholics, the same thing could happen.
Go here to read the rest. Popes have a lot on their plates and often have to take a very long view of the issues they confront. However, the long view too often means that Catholics in a tight place are often left to fend for themselves, the Vatican fearful of speaking up for them and thereby endangering other concerns. PopeWatch understands this, but he also understands that we can be so eager to come to terms with our adversaries, that we leave our Catholic brothers and sisters to suffer, while the Pope engages in a global chess game with forces that hate the Church. Even worse is when a Pope seems completely indifferent to the concerns of local Catholics and eager to come to terms with their oppressors.