When Diplomacy Prevails over the Principles of the Faith

10 February 2015, 16:24 | Open theme | 11 |   | Code for Blog |  | 

Myroslav Marynovych

former prisoner in Brezhnev’s concentration camps

marinovich1.jpgUkrainian Catholics are talking quite a bit about His Holiness Pope Francis these days. We are grateful that a unique relic from the Vatican, the image of Christ on the veil, has been brought to Lviv. Many pilgrims are traveling to pray fervently before the icon, which the Pope has generously allowed to be brought to a country suffering a painful war.

At the same time, we are very disturbed by the words with which Pope Francis addressed Ukrainians during his general audience of February 4, equating our current conflict with Russia with “fratricidal fighting among Christians.”

A bold pastor and a man of clear words, Pope Francis, nevertheless, depends on his curia to understand the Russian-Ukrainian war. That’s the problem. For many Vatican diplomats, relations with the Moscow Patriarchate of the Russian Orthodox Church are the priority when there is a question about Eastern-rite Catholics in this part of the world.

I have two motivations for criticizing the Vatican’s position on the “Ukrainian question.” First of all, as Pope Francis has said, we should look on the Church’s sins and imperfections as on those of our own mother. So, the mistakes of my Mother, the Church, pain me and I must speak. So I will speak with respect for the Pope, who himself bravely speaks the truth to which he witnesses.

Secondly, in my own life I have paid for defending the truth, at the cost of ten years’ imprisonment in a Soviet concentration camp. So I know that faithfulness to the truth is a higher value than one’s own security or peaceful prosperity. I continue to live according to this principle.

Diplomacy is a legitimate part of church life. However, for diplomacy, centers of power have first place. It is not interested in spirituality and personal witnessing to the faith.

But it is difficult to imagine something more contradictory to Christ’s ministry than absolutizing centers of power. Can you picture Jesus flattering the power-holders of his time and not reacting to a simple person’s efforts to cleanse his religious devotion of corruption?

For many Vatican diplomats, the Ukrainian Church is divided, naïve, unskilled in diplomacy – it does not exist as a center of power. For them, it is only a trouble-maker that creates problems in relations with the only real center of power in our area, the Moscow Patriarchate. And the Moscow Patriarchate’s clear, scandalous sins do not trouble the diplomats: they will give it priority as long as it remains influential in interchurch relations.

Vatican functionaries were almost entirely silent at the manifestation of authentic spirituality on the Maidan, the protests in Kyiv and throughout the country in late 2013 and early 2014. Simple people turned to spiritual values. There was a desire to overcome corruption. Kyiv’s Independence Square, the Maidan, was a place of daily prayers, night vigils, and conversions to the faith. The Maidan was a site of ecumenism and interreligious cooperation on human dignity, that is, there was a public consensus of all Christians, Jews and Muslims of Ukraine. There is now incredible volunteer work being done to help numerous refugees, wounded and traumatized. All this has earned not a single explicit word of support from the curia.

These events happened in the Moscow Patriarchate’s sphere of interests, so the Vatican diplomats made a taboo of any real support of Ukraine’s “Revolution of Dignity.” It seems the diplomats had an excessive influence on the Holy See’s decisions. At moments like this, you feel that the Vatican diplomat corps as a center of power has crushed beneath its heel the role of the Vatican as a spiritual center.

But this is not all. The Vatican, silent about Russia’s military aggression against Ukraine, has refused to take a position. It is perhaps understandable that the Vatican did not call Russia an aggressor at the beginning of the conflict, when Europe was unable to sort out the true causes and guilty parties. However, today massive evidence is available about Russia’s direct participation.

Still, the Holy See made one gesture of public support: sending a papal legate to Ukraine, Cardinal Schoenborn. His day of meetings in Ukraine’s capital had important symbolic meaning.

However, even when the Pope had access to appropriate information at his public audience of February 4, in accord with his advisors he called the bloodshed in eastern Ukraine “fratricidal,” as if repeating Moscow’s totally false versions of “a civil war in Ukraine.” Even now, grieving over terrible human losses, the Pope says no word about Russia as an aggressor and the true first cause of these losses!

And when he tells Ukrainians that in this allegedly internal conflict there is “fighting among Christians,” the Roman Pontiff addresses not a single word to the spiritual head of Russia’s Christians, who together with Putin is equally responsible for this bloody conflict! The Holy See has not even spoken out in defense of Ukrainian officer Nadia Savchenko, who is being held in a Russia prison in violation of all international agreements and today is in danger of a very real death.

So the Pope, a brave pastor and moral authority, is forced to be a careful diplomat who is afraid to name the cause of the pain which his flock is suffering. However, I think it’s even more dangerous that diplomacy and reluctance to spoil relations with Moscow has invaded the domain of the Catholic faith. Calls for reconciliation hang in the air if the main prerequisite of all reconciliation, truth, is not secure. If the Church does not establish and defend the truth, it cannot carry out its peacekeeping mission or establish appropriate relations with other sister-churches.

The situation is critical. It was unacceptable that the Vatican did not protest when, at the Synod of Catholic Bishops in October 2014, Russian Orthodox Metropolitan Hilarion Alfeyev, a guest of the Synod, in the presence of the Pope insulted the Catholic Church and uttered yet another slander against the Ukrainian Catholic Church, one of the churches of the Catholic family. At that point it became entirely clear that the formula “dialogue at any cost” is ruinous.

The Catholic Church must radically re-think its position on ecumenism, cleansing it of false stereotypes and harmful intertia. An appropriate Gospel verse is Matthew 10:39: “Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” In this sentence, we should substitute the word “life” with “ecumenical dialogue.” Ecumenical dialogue cannot be preserved at the cost of denying the truth; on the contrary, this is the best way to ruin it.

Only by “losing” today’s imitation of ecumenical dialogue for the sake of Jesus and his truth can the Church find out how the Christian churches are truly prepared for brotherhood in truth and love.

 

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  • Ігор Мицько | 26 February 2015, 11:50
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    Оскільки уніати найпатріотичніша частина нашого суспільства, то чи таке відверте ігнорування Ватиканом України не приведе до самоліквідації УГКЦ і влиття її вірників до КП?

    • Михаил | 1 March 2015, 03:19
      comment comment

      В отличае от самозванного и никем непризнанного "киевского патриархата" УГКЦ является канонической и законной Церковью, признанной во всем мире. Как же каноническая Церковь может отойти от Святого Папского Престола и объединиться с какой-то непонятной сектой по кличке "упц кп"?

  • mijswerdna | 12 February 2015, 01:00
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    The people of east Ukraine were well known to favor fraternal ties to Russia long before Maidan. Who thought that Maidan would change these peoples minds overnight? It is easier to kill them than persuade them no? So this war is about forcing others against will to adopt Halychyna's fanatical views of Ukrainian nationalism- or face harsh punishment. From a more pragmatic perspective,it has been fought to protect Kolomoisky's business interests.

    • mpetro | 12 February 2015, 03:17
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      Having fraternal ties to Russia is one thing, but usurping governance through armed assault and taking down the flag of your country and flying that of another will not be tolerated by any country. Note: would Russia ever tolerate it? As to "killing the other-minded Eastern Ukrainians",the Ukrainian army ends up killing only those that attack them with arms. If you take up arms against any army, what do you think the result will be? The "separatists/terrorists" on the other hand, first kill, kidnap, torture, terrorize, bomb the civil population and then stage forced elections and referendums. Notice the difference? If I have an argument with a friend that allowed me to live in his house, I leave and go elsewhere. If I hurt his family, destroy his house and try to take a part of it for myself, I am a criminal, by any standards. WHatever the reasons behind the separatism, there is no excuse, NO EXCUSE for having started the armed conflict.

  • mpetro | 11 February 2015, 18:56
    comment comment

    Велика відповідальність за "сліпоту" ватиканської дипломатії стосовно справ України й УГКЦ належить єпископату УГКЦ. Це ж потенційно велика сила, але вкрай рідко чути їх спільний голос і оцінку стосовно ватиканського москвофільства. Чомусь уявляють, що ватиканську дипломатію негоже критикувати, а тому на міжнародному рівні лишають свій народ і свою Церкву на призволяще московській пропоганді. Забувають, що папа претендує на непомильність тільки у справах віри й моралі, а ватиканській курії така непомильність взагалі невластива. Скоро відбудеться офіційний візит єпископату України до папи. Чудова нагода підкласти потужну інформаційну "бомбу" під ватиканське москвофільство. ЧИ ВИКОРИСТАЮТЬ?

    • Taras Antoshevskyy | 11 February 2015, 20:11
      comment comment

      Для таких справ існує нунціатура. І слава Богу, нинішній нунцій один з міжнародних адвокатів української справи. Але хоч у 5 раз більше єпископату і ще три такі нунції, проте важко протидіяти московським фанатам з Ватикану, які роками себе обманюють якось "особливою" московською духовністю. А мітрополіт всія ФСБ Іларіон не даремно відвідує різні католицькі інституції...

  • Marko | 11 February 2015, 01:10
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    Завдяки специфічному відношенні Церкви з державою в Росії, Москва (КҐБ) здобула колосальний досвід в тому, як брати клериків під свій вплив, іноді навіть непомітно для них самих. Сьогодні цей досвід стає Путіну в пригоді і по відношенні до Римської Курії і клериків Католицької Церкви: малий підкуп тут, малий шантаж там. Людські слабості та амбіції використовуй. Все дискретно, непомітно. Завжди нібито заради високих ідеалів. І все очевидно на благо влади Москви. Нічого їм не докажеш, але результат очевидний.

  • Паломник | 10 February 2015, 21:34
    comment comment

    Тепер до мене дійшло - такі книжки, як "Ангели і демони" Дена Брауна та інша, їй подібна література, породжена не так ненавистю до Католицької Церкви, як ненавистю до тонкої ватиканської дипломатії. А так, як багато людей не розуміє різниці між одним і другим, той прорахунки дипломатії і дальше підриватимуть авторитет Церкви. І тут мова йде не тільки про російське питання. Дипломатичне завуальовування проблем педофілії серед священослужителів теж принесло свої гіркі плоди. Тому й не дивує занепад віри в Європі.

  • firemark | 10 February 2015, 17:51
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    Колись владика Станіслав Широкорадюк сказав на проповіді, що Майдан та війна на сході - це війна добра зі злом... Сподіваємось, що цю думку він доведе до Папи. Дійсно війна, так само як і майдан розділили сім'ї, знайомих, навіть народи (Мт.10,32-40). При цьому видно неозброеним оком, що головну скрипку як на маїдані так і потім грає наш північно-східний сусід, а РПЦ відмовилась від своєї місії душпастирства, підтримуючи агресивні геополітичні ігруща свого уряду.

    • Тарасій | 10 February 2015, 19:33
      comment comment

      А ще видно, що за останні 50 років остполітік Ватикану не змінилася - москвофільство стало основою політики щодо Східної Європи. Хіба святий Папа Іван Павло ІІ намагався бути об'єктивним. Але як викорінити сліпоту ватиканських дипломатів?...

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Last comments

  • Чуваки | 24 August 2016, 11:21

    Ну да согласен, конечно же они все намномго большие патриоты чем мы. Один только этот их украинский выговор чего стоит, щедро разбавленый до неузнаваемости родным канадским. Лучше уже наш суржик

  • OLesja | 24 August 2016, 05:04

    "іноземні українці, ставши громадянами інших країн та активними членами тамтешніх політичних націй не забувають свою історичну Батьківщину. «Російсько-радянська імперія викорінювала український

  • Чуваки | 24 August 2016, 01:37

    Умнейшие люди, я вам скажу эта диаспора. В сытом, тихом омуте сидеть и так громко квакать о своём патриотизме и любви к своей бывшей и далекой, а поэтому горяче любимой родине, что даже президент не

  • Oleg 65 | 23 August 2016, 23:54

    ну так і є - патріоти - це українці за кордоном,які не мають сміливості купити квиток в один бік,до України... хоча для мене вони - пасинки!

  • Кропива | 18 August 2016, 16:11

    Якщо винуватий - посадять. А доки його вина не доведена. розповсюджувати судом не підтверджену інформацію - не етично.

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