Ukrainian Foreign Ministry spokesman Oleg Nikolenko called the pope’s language “very unfortunate.”
The Kremlin justifies the murder of thousands of Ukrainians and the extermination of hundreds of Ukrainians in support of “spiritual pillars” and the “need” to save “Grandmother Russia.” cities and villages,” he said at the end of the day on Monday.
“It is very regrettable,” he added, “that Russian superpower ideas, which are in fact responsible for Russia’s long-term aggression, come out of the mouth of the Pope, consciously or unconsciously, whose purpose, in our view, is precisely to open the eyes of Russian youth to the destructive path of the Russian leaders in power”.
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Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni assured on Tuesday that the pontiff’s “spontaneous” comments were “aimed at encouraging young people to preserve and promote the positive in Russia’s great cultural and spiritual heritage.” He emphasized that these comments were certainly not (intended) to glorify past or present imperialist logics of Russian history.
Pope Francis continues to call for peace in Ukraine, although he has been criticized for not naming Moscow the aggressor in the first months after Russia’s February 2022 invasion.
Earlier this year he tried to keep the peace by appointing a high-ranking cardinal who visited both Moscow and Kiev.
The Vatican’s official media website reported on the pope’s video message on Aug. 25, Russian Youth Day, but did not publish or take out specific quotes that angered Kiev.
On the other hand, the Pope called on young Russians to be “peacemakers” and to “sow the seeds of reconciliation”.
Moscow, for its part, welcomed the Pope’s comments. “The Pope knows Russian history. It’s very good. Deep, the legacy is not just Peter and Catherine. […]. It is a pleasure to see the papacy united,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.
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