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Vatican removes Pope’s quote about ‘great Russia’ after Ukrainian backlash

Ukrainian Foreign Ministry criticizes Pope Francis for praising ‘great Russia’ in his speech.
The imayge shows Pope Francis delivering his midday Angelus prayer on 23 January, 2023. Screenshot: Video by Vatican News.
Vatican removes Pope’s quote about ‘great Russia’ after Ukrainian backlash

Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry expressed regret that Pope Francis “is spreading Russian imperial ideas,” which the Kremlin uses to justify the killing of Ukrainians.

In his Facebook post, the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry spox, Oleh Nikolenko, criticized a quote from Pope Francis’ speech to participants of the X All-Russian Day of Catholic Youth in Saint Petersburg on 25 August 2023.

“Never forget your heritage. You are the descendants of great Russia: the great Russia of saints, rulers, the great Russia of Peter the Great, Catherine the Great, that empire of great culture and great humanity,” Pope Francis said in his address to the Russian youth. “Never give up this heritage. You are the descendants of the great Mother Russia, so go forward with it. And thank you for your way of being, for your way of being Russian.”

Vatican News, the official website of the Vatican, has posted the text of the Pope’s address, but the passage in question was removed from it. At the same time, a video excerpt of the Pope’s speech with this quote is still available online.

“It is with such imperialist propaganda and the “need” to save ‘Great Mother Russia’ that the Kremlin justifies the murders of thousands of Ukrainians and the destruction of hundreds of Ukrainian cities and villages,” The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry spox said. “It is very unfortunate that Russian great-power ideas, which are, in fact, the cause of Russia’s chronic aggressiveness, are consciously or unconsciously coming from the mouth of the Pope, whose mission, in our understanding, is precisely to open the eyes of Russian youth to the destructive course of the current Russian leadership.”

In 2022, Pope Francis recognized Russia as the aggressor in the war against Ukraine,  condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and called Ukrainian people “martyrs,” who face the “cruelty” of Russian troops.

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