Once again the Vatican puts ordinary Ukrainians on the same level with Russians. Considerations about the proper attitude of the Church to the war


On April 7, on Good Friday according to the Gregorian calendar, the topic of equalizing ordinary Russians and Ukrainians, who suffer equally in the situation of the Russian aggression against Ukraine, was again loudly voiced by the leaders of the Vatican Curia. Many people, including Ukrainian Catholics, expressed their disagreement with such a position of their leadership or even their outrage by it.

Similarly, last year of 2022, many Christians in Ukraine were surprised or even saddened by the proposal of the Vatican Curia regarding the texts to be read during the Way of the Cross. Then, during the procession commemorating the last way of Jesus Christ, two women – of Russian and Ukrainian origin – carried the cross together. But even more was planned – they would read a joint prayer. But due to the great publicity regarding this gesture’s comparison of Ukraine as a victim of aggression and Russia as an aggressor state, the authors canceled the reading of the texts – the women stood silently, and those who wished could read the text for themselves.

On Good Friday of this 2023 year according to the Gregorian calendar, a similar procession took place. According to media reports, during it, people from different parts of the world talked about suffering, mostly caused by wars and terrorist attacks. At the tenth station, the stories of a boy from Ukraine and a boy from Russia were heard. A boy from Ukraine told how he had to flee with his relatives from the war-torn Mariupol, and a boy from Russia told how his older brother died in the war and that his father and grandfather went missing.

In this way, the Vatican deliberately emphasizes the similarity of the sufferings of ordinary Ukrainians and Russians from this war. Nowadays to an even greater extent this issue concerns also the Orthodox people in Ukraine: the persecution and harassment of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church is taking place before our eyes because of the position of its leadership regarding the ongoing war. This position remains, according to many external observers, amorphous and ambiguous. 

Regarding the position of the Vatican and the position of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, public opinion in Ukraine is mostly very categorical and negative. That is why there is a need in the Ukrainian environment to reflect on the attitude to the war. This need was answered by the journal “Essays on Religious Studies”, which published two texts: Volodymyr Burega’s “Ukrainian Orthodox Church in the face of Challenges of the War” and Anatoly Babynskyi’s “Position of Pope Francis in the Context of Russian Aggression”.

Sergii Bortnyk, as a representative of the Theological Academy of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, wrote a commentary on the text of Anatoly Babynskyi. His main idea was that Church leaders should have another kind of thinking than the state officials, their vision should from an individual perspective and not from the state one.

Through the discussion of the topic, the pages of the journal became a platform for exchange of ideas – several comments were written on the initial texts of both mentioned authors, after which the authors themselves expressed their reactions to the mentioned comments. It was an interesting discussion that was published on the pages of an academic journal on the topic of the Church’s attitude to the war.