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Shun Putin’s snake poison Ukrainian Primate warns

15 September 2023

Ukrainian church leaders urge war-fatigued citizens to persevere


Mass in St Peter’s, Rome, for the Bishops of the Synod of Ukrainian Greek Orthodox Church on Monday

Mass in St Peter’s, Rome, for the Bishops of the Synod of Ukrainian Greek Orthodox Church on Monday

THE Primate of the Ukrainian independent Orthodox Church, Metropolitan Epiphany (Dumenko), has warned war-fatigued citizens not to fall for the same temptation as the people of Israel under Pharoah and renounce freedom “for the small joys of a slave life”. A Vatican envoy has again urged Ukrainians to join in efforts for a “just and secure peace”.

“There can be no turning back to the modern Egypt, the prison of nations and house of slavery — to the evil Russian empire”, Metropolitan Epiphany told a congregation in Kyiv on Sunday.

“The evil Kremlin Pharaoh beckons, recalling how well we all lived in the Soviet Union, with cheap sausage and tasty ice cream. But the Pharaoh’s words are snake poison — and the Russian space which he and his henchmen preach is a slave yoke bringing death to anyone who accepts it.”

The Metropolitan issued the summons as G7 foreign ministers condemned last weekend’s “sham elections” in Russian-occupied areas of Ukraine, and as President Putin claimed to have held back Ukraine’s summer counter-offensive and vowed to be “ready for a long war”.

The Primate of the Greek Catholic Church in Ukraine, Major Archbishop Svetoslav Shevchuk, preaching on Sunday to 2500 Ukrainians in St Peter’s Basilica, at the close of a Rome synod with his bishops, urged followers to maintain unity with the Pope despite his recent remarks, “not for political or diplomatic reasons, but as sons and daughters of the universal Church.

“Ukraine will not be able to withstand this war without broad international help. Universal Catholic and Christian solidarity is a necessary condition for the stability and survival of our Church and people — a condition for Ukraine’s victory in a war of good against evil.”

The director of the Vatican Press Office, Matteo Bruni, said that the president of the RC Italian Bishops’ Conference, Cardinal Matteo Zuppi, would be holding talks from Wednesday, in China, on the Pope’s behalf, in a “further step” in his mission to “support humanitarian initiatives and search for paths to a just peace”.

Speaking this week in Berlin at a meeting organised by the Sant’Egidio Community in Rome, Cardinal Zuppi described Pope Francis as “an incurable dreamer, who never stops pushing so that war doesn’t become the rule”, but said that patience would also be needed “to weave and restore a fabric torn apart by divisions, violence, war and injustice. . .

“We must always remember who is the aggressor and who was attacked, but we must also find a solution,” the cardinal said. He also visited Kyiv, Moscow, and Washington in June and July.

“My mission is to continue creating all necessary conditions, and pushing in the only right direction, which is a just and secure peace. It must be a peace chosen by the Ukrainians, but with guarantees, commitments, and efforts by everyone.”

Asked about the Pope’s praise for “great mother Russia” in an online address to Roman Catholics in St Petersburg on 25 August (News, 1 September), the cardinal said he believed that the “clouds” created in relations with Kyiv would “dissipate” as Ukrainians remembered “the support always given them in their suffering”.

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