Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called the atrocity that occurred in the Ukraine town of Bucha “genocide.” RONALDO SCHEMIDT/AFP via Getty Images
“I am willing to do whatever needs to be done, and the Holy See, especially the diplomatic side, Cardinal Parolin and Archbishop Gallagher, are doing everything… everything possible. We cannot render public everything they do, for prudence, for confidentiality, but we are pushing the boundaries of our work. Among the possibilities there is the trip [to Kiev]… My availability remains constant. There is no “no”: I am available. What are my thoughts regarding such a trip? This was the question: “we heard that you were thinking about a trip to Ukraine”; I said that it is on the table; it is there, one of the proposals I have received, but I don’t know if it can be done, if it is fitting, and whether if would be for the best or if it is fitting to undertake it, whether I should go… all this is in the air.” — Pope Francis, during his April 3 press conference (yesterday)
“I’ll tell you something personal: In 2014, when I was in Redipuglia and saw the names of the dead, I cried. I truly cried out of bitterness. Then, a year or two later, for the Day of the Dead I went to celebrate in Anzio and saw the names the men who fell there. They were all young men, and I wept there, too. I really did. We must weep on the graves.” — Pope Francis, during his April 3 press conference (yesterday)
Letter #62, 2022, Monday, April 4: “We must weep on the graves”
Pope Francis is considering going to Kiev to call for a ceasefire in the Ukraine conflict.
He confirmed this yesterday, speaking to journalists on his flight back from a visit to Malta, where he made a pastoral trip over the weekend.
(Here is a link to the entire press conference transcript — it is not very long, but for the moment it is only in Italian (you may translate it using the Google translate program): (link)
All this is occurring as the fighting in Ukraine is not stopping, and atrocities are being discovered which are horrifying.
Dozens of bodies of Ukrainians have been found in the village of Bucha, Ukraine, and the Russians are being accused of war crimes. (link)
The Russians are denying that they are responsible, but their denials are not being given any credit in the world press.
CBSNews reported —(link)—”Russian officials denied civilians were killed in Bucha. The Russian defense ministry claimed the gruesome scenes in Bucha were faked by Ukrainian forces as a “provocation.” It has become a common refrain from Moscow, issued after previous alleged atrocities came to light in this war, and during Russia’s long involvement in Syria’s brutal civil war.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov dismissed the reports of what he called a “fake attack” in Bucha and said Russia was demanding “an urgent meeting of the Security Council on this particular issue because we see such provocations as a direct threat to international peace and security.”
TASS, the Russian news agency said today: (link)
MOSCOW, April 4. /TASS/. Russia on Monday will demand again the UN Security Council meet in session to discuss the Ukrainian military’s provocation in Bucha, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on her Telegram channel.
“Yesterday, the current UN SC president, Britain, acting in accordance with its worst traditions, once again refused to give consent to holding a Security Council meeting on Bucha. Today, Russia will demand once again the UN Security Council meet in session to discuss criminal provocations by the Ukrainian military and radicals in that city,” Zakharova said.
The Russian Defense Ministry on April 3 dismissed the Kiev regime’s charges its forces had allegedly killed civilians in the community of Bucha, the Kiev Region. The ministry recalled that Russian forces left Bucha on March 30 while faked evidence of alleged killings was presented four days later, when Ukrainian security service SBU agents arrived in the locality. The Russian Defense Ministry also said that on March 31 Bucha’s Mayor Anatoly Fedoruk said in a video address that there were no Russian soldiers in the community. Nor did he mention any locals allegedly shot on the streets.
In this situation of horror, it is nevertheless a fact to be kept in mind that there are mercenary soldiers fighting inside Ukraine in various units, and so it seems possible that some war atrocities can be perpetrated by military formations outside of the official armies of Russia and Ukraine.
These mercenaries are fighting on both sides: for Russia (link)
And for Ukraine (link)
One man who represented himself as a mercenary from Brazil is videotaped saying: “I don’t know what to say, special forces from all over the world, from France, from all over Europe, from South Korea, Chile, America, Canada. Guys, the whole world is there” (link)
In this sense, the “fog of war” has descended over Ukraine, and there is killing occurring which is tragic, and to way to end the killing seemingly becomes more difficult with each passing day.
As Pope Francis said to the journalists yesterday, “we must weep over the graves.” —RM
1) The Pope considers going to Ukraine — and to meet with Russian and Ukrainian religious leaders
Pope implicitly criticises Putin on invasion, considers Kyiv trip (link)
April 2, 2022
VALLETTA, April 2 (Reuters) – Pope Francis said on Saturday he was considering a trip to Kyiv and implicitly criticised Russian President Vladimir Putin over the invasion of Ukraine, saying a “potentate” was fomenting conflict for nationalist interests.
Francis made the comments, first to reporters on the plane taking him to Malta for a two-day visit, and then in a hard-hitting speech in the island’s presidential palace that left little doubt who he was referring to.
“From the east of Europe, from the land of the sunrise, the dark shadows of war have now spread. We had thought that invasions of other countries, savage street fighting and atomic threats were grim memories of a distant past,” the pope said.
Moscow denies targeting civilians in the action it launched on Feb. 24, which it dubs a “special military operation” designed not to occupy territory but to demilitarise and “denazify” its neighbour. Francis has already rejected that terminology, calling it a war.
“However, the icy winds of war, which bring only death, destruction and hatred in their wake, have swept down powerfully upon the lives of many people and affected us all,” Francis said.
“Once again, some potentate, sadly caught up in anachronistic claims of nationalist interests, is provoking and fomenting conflicts, whereas ordinary people sense the need to build a future that, will either be shared, or not be at all,” he said, without mentioning Putin by name.
NIGHT OF WAR
“Now in the night of the war that is fallen upon humanity, let us not allow the dream of peace to fade,” he [the Pope] said at the palace.
He again criticised the armaments industry and expressed distress at the fading enthusiasm for peace that emerged after World War Two, saying the clash of interests and ideologies had “re-emerged powerfully in the seductions of autocracy, new forms of imperialism (and) widespread aggressiveness.”
Earlier, asked by a reporter on the flight if he was considering an invitation to visit Kyiv, the pope answered: “Yes, it is on the table.” He gave no further details.
Francis has been invited by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, Kyiv Mayor Vitaliy Klitschko, Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchukof Ukraine’s Byzantine-rite Catholic Church, and Ukraine’s ambassador to the Vatican, Andriy Yurash.
He has spoken on the phone with Zelenskiy and Shevchuk.
[Read more of this Reuters report]
a) Transcript of the Pope’s in-flight press conference
Pope Francis: “We never learn, we are enamored of war and the spirit of Cain!” (link)
Pope Francis answers questions about the war in Ukraine and the possibility of a journey to Kyiv, during the short flight from Malta to Rome at the conclusion of his 36th Apostolic Journey.
April 3, 2022
By Vatican News
“We never learn. May the Lord have mercy on us, on all of us. Every one of us is guilty!”
Speaking to reporters aboard the papal plane from Malta, Pope Francis recalls what struck him about the island’s welcome and returns to talk about the war in Ukraine. (Here below is an unofficial translation of the Pope’s inflight press conference)
Question: Thank you for your presence in Malta. My question is about the surprise of this morning in the chapel where [St. George Preca] is buried… What motivated you to make this surprise to the Maltese, and what you will remember about this visit to Malta? And how is your health? We have seen you during this very intense trip. We can say it went well. Thank you very much. (Andrea Rossitto with TVM)
Pope Francis: My health is a bit fickle, I have this problem with my knee that causes problems with getting about, with walking. It’s a bit annoying, but improving, and at least I can get out. Two weeks ago, I couldn’t do anything. It’s a slow thing; we’ll see if it comes back. However, a doubt arises at this age about not knowing how the game will end. Let’s hope it goes well.
And then about Malta: I was happy with the visit: I saw the realities of Malta; I saw an impressive enthusiasm of the people, both on Gozo and on Malta, in Valletta, and in the other places. There was a great enthusiasm in the streets; I was amazed. It was a bit short.
One problem I saw for you and also one of the problems is migration. The problem of migrants is serious because Greece, Cyprus, Malta, Italy, and Spain: these are the closest countries to Africa and the Middle East, and they land here, they arrive here… Migrants must always be welcomed!
The problem is that each government has to say how many they can receive regularly to live there. This requires an agreement among the countries of Europe, and not all of them are willing to receive migrants. We forget that Europe was made by migrants, right? But that’s the way things are, but at the very least let us not leave all the burden to these neighbouring countries that are so generous, and Malta is one of them.
Today I was in the migrant reception centre and the things I heard there are terrible, the suffering of these people to get here… and then the camps, there are camps, which are on the Libyan coast, when they are sent back. This seems criminal, doesn’t it? That’s why I think it’s a problem that touches everyone’s heart.
Just as Europe is making room so generously for the Ukrainians who knock on the door, so too for the others who come out of the Mediterranean.
This is a point that I finished the visit with, and it touched me so much, because I heard the testimonies, the sufferings and that are more or less like those that I think I told you are in that little book that came out, “Hermanito” in Spanish, “little brother”; and all the Via Crucis [the Way of the Cross] of these people. One of those who spoke today had to pay four times! I ask you to think about this. Thank you.
Q: On the flight that took us to Malta, you told one of my colleagues that a trip to Kyiv “is on the table.” While in Malta you referred to your closeness to the Ukrainian people, and on Friday in Rome, the Polish President opened the door to a possible visit to the Polish border. Today we were struck by the images coming from Bucha, a village near Kyiv, abandoned by the Russian army where Ukrainians have found dozens of bodies in the streets, some with their hands tied, as if they had been “executed.” It seems, today, that your presence there is increasingly necessary. Do you think such a trip is feasible? And what conditions would have to be in place for you to be able to go there? (asked by Jorge Antelo Barcia with RNA)
Pope Francis: Thank you for conveying this news from today that I was not yet aware of. War is always an act of cruelty, an inhuman thing, that goes against the human spirit; I don’t say Christian, [I say] human. It is the spirit of Cain, the “Cainist” spirit… I am willing to do whatever needs to be done, and the Holy See, especially the diplomatic side, Cardinal Parolin and Archbishop Gallagher, are doing everything… everything possible. We cannot render public everything they do, for prudence, for confidentiality, but we are pushing the boundaries of our work.
Among the possibilities there is the trip; there are two possible trips: the President of Poland proposed one trip when he asked me to send Cardinal Krajewski to visit the Ukrainians who have been welcomed in Poland; he has already been there twice – he brought two ambulances, and he was there with them for some time, and he will go again; he is willing to do so.
The other option is the trip that some of you have asked about; I answered with sincerity that I was planning to go, that my availability remains constant. There is no “no”: I am available. What are my thoughts regarding such a trip? This was the question: “we heard that you were thinking about a trip to Ukraine”; I said that it is on the table; it is there, one of the proposals I have received, but I don’t know if it can be done, if it is fitting, and whether if would be for the best or if it is fitting to undertake it, whether I should go… all this is in the air.
For some time there have been considerations made regarding a meeting with Patriarch Kirill; that’s what’s being worked on, with the possibility of the Middle East as a venue for such a meeting. This is how things are being considered at the moment.
Q: Several times during this trip you have talked about the war. The question everyone is asking is whether since the beginning of the war you have spoken to President Putin, and if not, what would you say to him today? (asked by Gerry O’Connell with America Magazine)
Pope Francis: The things which I’ve said to authorities on all sides are public. None of the things I have said are confidential. When I spoke to the Patriarch, he then released a nice statement of what we said to each other.
I spoke to the President of Russia at the end of last year when he called me to wish me “happy birthday.” I have spoken twice to the President of Ukraine. Then, on the first day of the war, I felt I had to go to the Russian Embassy to speak to the Ambassador who is the representative of the people, and ask questions and offer my impressions regarding the situation. These are the official contacts I have had. With Russia I did it through the Embassy.
Also, I have spoken to the Major Archbishop of Kiev Shevchuk. I have also spoken regularly—every two or three days—with one of you, Elisabetta Piqué, who was in Lviv and is now in Odessa. She tells me how things are. I have also spoken with the rector of the seminary. But as I said, I am also in contact with one of you.
Speaking of that, I would like to give you condolences for your colleagues who have fallen. Whatever side they are on, it doesn’t matter. However, your work is on behalf of the common good, and they have fallen in service of the common good, on behalf of information. Let’s not forget them. They were brave, and I pray for them that the Lord will reward them for their work. These have been the contacts I have had so far.
Q: But what would be your message for Putin if you had a chance (to talk to him)?
Pope Francis: The messages I have given to all the authorities are the ones I have done publicly. I do not do double-speak. I always speak the same.
I think in your question there is also doubt about just and unjust wars. Every war stems from an injustice, always, because that is the pattern of war. This is not a pattern for peace. For example, making investments to buy weapons. Some people say: ‘But we need them to defend ourselves.’ This is the pattern of war.
When World War II ended everyone breathed “never war” and peace. There began a wave of work for peace with the goodwill not to give weapons, atomic weapons at that time, on behalf of peace, after Hiroshima and Nagasaki. There existed a great goodwill.
Seventy years later we have forgotten all that. That’s how the pattern of war imposes itself. There was so much hope in the work of the United Nations then. But the pattern of war has imposed itself again. We cannot image another pattern. We are not used to thinking of the pattern of peace anymore. There have been great people like Ghandi and others whom I mention at the end of the encyclical Fratelli tutti who have bet on the pattern of peace.
But as humanity we are stubborn. We are in love with wars, with the spirit of Cain. It is not by chance that at the beginning of the Bible this problem is presented: the “Cainist” spirit of killing instead of the spirit of peace. “Father, you can’t!”
I’ll tell you something personal: In 2014, when I was in Redipuglia and saw the names of the dead, I cried. I truly cried out of bitterness. Then, a year or two later, for the Day of the Dead I went to celebrate in Anzio and saw the names the men who fell there. They were all young men, and I cried there, too. I really did. We must cry on the graves.
There is something that I respect because there is a political problem. When there was the commemoration of the Normandy landings, several heads of government came together to commemorate it. However, I don’t remember anyone talking about the 30,000 young boys who were left on the beaches. Youth does not matter. That makes me wonder. I am grieved. We never learn. May the Lord have mercy on us, on all of us. Every one of us is guilty!
[End, transcript of the press conference of Pope Francis of yesterday]
b) The Pope before these questions did not yet know about the Bucha atrocities— it was hearing the questions of the journalists that made him aware of the news. Here is a brief piece from the website Il Sismografo which makes this observation:
While awaiting the words of the Vatican on Bucha we recall what Saint John Paul II said on July 16, 1995 after the slaughter in Srebrenica (link)
Il Sismografo, April 4, 2022
No cause, no project can justify
such barbaric actions and methods:
they are crimes against humanity!
Five days after the ethnic slaughter of Srebrenica, Bosnia Erzogovina, during the Angelus of 16 July, 1995, Pope St. John Paul II said:
“The news and images that come from Bosnia, and in particular from Srebrenica and Zepa, testify how much Europe and humanity have sunk even further into the abyss of abjection.
“No cause, no project can justify actions and methods so barbaric: they are crimes against humanity!
“How I would like my word, my affection and my prayer to reach those brothers and sisters, rejected on the road of exodus in the most extreme misery! good will to continue without tiring to help those tormented populations. What is taking place before the eyes of the whole world constitutes a defeat of civilization. These crimes will remain as one of the saddest chapters in the history of Europe. May God touch hearts and enlighten lost spirits!”
Note: Yesterday, Sunday 3 April, a journalist on the plane taking Francis to Rome referred in a question to the Pope about the news about the slaughter in the Ukrainian town of Bucha. Here is what the Pope said: “Thank you for telling me this news today that I did not yet know. War is always a cruelty, an inhuman thing, which goes against the human spirit, I do not say Christian, human. It is the spirit of Cain., the “cainist” spirit … “
That is to say, did the Pope board the plane without knowing anything about a piece of horrible news that had been circulating for a few hours.
c) Possible new meeting of the Pope with Kirill of Russia
A visit by the Pope to Kyiv and a new meeting with Kirill possible? The Pontiff’s answers (link)
April 4, 2022
In the press conference of Pope Francis, yesterday Sunday April 3, on the plane that was taking him back to the Vatican from Malta, in the answer to the question of Jorge Antelo Barcia (RNA) the Pontiff said, according to the transcription of Vatican News, several things all very important to better understand the critical situation that the world is experiencing and in particular Europe with Putin’s aggression against Ukraine.
“On the flight that took us to Malta, you told a colleague that a trip to Kiev is on the table (…). Do you think that a trip like this is feasible? And what would be the conditions that should be given for you to go there? ”
Reply of Pope Francis
“I said with sincerity that I had in mind to go there, that my availability is always there, there is no ‘no,’ I am available… I said that it is on the table, it is there as one of the proposals arrived but I do not know if it can be done… Then for some time we had thought of a meeting with Patriarch Kirill, we are working on this, we are working and we are thinking about the Middle East to do it, these are things as they are now. ”
[End, focus on a possible meeting of Francis with Patriarch Kirill]
Patriarch Kirill’s latest address & other news (link)
On April 3, Patriarch Kirill celebrated the Divine Liturgy in the new and magnificent Resurrection Cathedral, the main temple of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation. A video of the entire service can be watched at (link). Those present included military personnel standing in formation as well as a crowd of civilians. After the Liturgy the Patriarch gave his address. (link)
Kirill’s address included the following:
“I am very glad that today I had the opportunity to celebrate the Divine Liturgy in this beautiful church, in the presence of our servicemen. Today, our Fatherland is going through a difficult time. Today, the name ‘military man’ is again associated with being not only in a peaceful state, but also being on the battlefield. Fortunately, our Fatherland does not often face the battlefield, but the arrival of young people in the Armed Forces who aspire to become officers, who strive to devote their lives to defending the Fatherland, does not run low. And if in peacetime this can be explained by some kind of privileges or material considerations, then in wartime, service in the Armed Forces is a real feat, and this is exactly the time we are experiencing now. The service requires readiness from everyone who has taken the oath to defend the Fatherland, not sparing their lives.
“Today the word ‘independence’ is often applied to almost all countries of the world. But this is wrong, because most of the countries of the world are now under the colossal influence of one force, which today, unfortunately, opposes the force of our people. And since this is so, since there is great strength, then we must also be very strong. When I say ‘we,’ I mean, first of all, the Armed Forces — but not only. All of our people today must wake up, wake up, understand that a special time has come, on which the historical fate of our people may depend.
“That is why today I celebrated the Divine Liturgy right here, in this church, in order to meet first of all with representatives of our Armed Forces, to address them, and through them to our entire army, to the navy, to all the defenders of the Fatherland, so that they realize the historical importance of the present moment.
“I want to say again and again: we are a peace-loving country and a very peace-loving, long-suffering people who suffered from wars like few other European nations. We have no desire for war or for doing something that could harm others.
“But we have been so educated throughout our entire history that we love our Fatherland and will be ready to defend it in the way that only Russians can defend their country.
“When I say these words, I do not say any empty compliments. I start from the history of our people, from the history of our Armed Forces. After all, we broke the back of fascism, which, undoubtedly, would have defeated the world, if not for Russia, if not for the feat of our people. May the Lord help us today too, so that we, being peaceful, peace-loving and modest people, are at the same time ready — always and under any circumstances — to protect our home.
“Of course, when I say all this, I do not cease to feel anxiety for all the people who live in those places where military clashes are taking place today. After all, all these are the people and peoples of Holy Rus’, all these are our brothers and sisters. But, as in the Middle Ages, wishing to weaken Russia, various forces pushed the brothers against each other, plunging them into internecine strife, so it is happening today. Therefore, we must do everything we can to stop the bloodshed and to avoid the danger of internecine strife with all its consequences. But at the same time, we must be faithful – when I say ‘we,’ I mean, first of all, military personnel — to our oath and readiness to ‘lay down our lives for our friends,’ as the word of God testifies.”
(end, Kirill’s remarks)
From these remarks by the Patriarch, it is clear that the Patriarch is telling the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation that they are defending their Fatherland by their actions in Ukraine and that this is something noble and honorable.
This reinforces what was already known.
If the relationship between the Patriarch and the Russian government makes a stance of neutrality by the Church impossible, the Patriarch will side with Russia and not Ukraine.
In considering the Patriarch’s remarks, it should be remembered that his views probably reflect the views of the vast majority of the people living in the Russian Federation.
On March 31, the respected Levada Center in Moscow released the results of a poll with respect to the actions of the Russian Armed Forces in Ukraine which showed: 53% “definitely support,” 28% “rather support,” and only 14% do not support. Six percent found it difficult to answer. (link) Also, the remarks by the Patriarch are more moderate than those of some other Russian hierarchs. For example, Metropolitan Leonid, Patriarchal Exarch for Africa, on this Telegram channel criticized Igumen Arseny (Sokolov), representative of the Moscow Patriarchate to the Patriarchate of Antioch, for calling the war in Ukraine “fratricidal.” (link)
Metropolitan Leonid stated: “And who, then, does he consider a brother when he speaks of a fratricidal war. I have no brothers among the brown scum [“коричневого отребья”]!
The difference in perceptions of what is true and factual between Russians on the one hand and Ukrainians and much of the West, on the other hand, is huge.
For example, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate) has posted numerous articles on the funerals given by its clergy to fallen Ukrainian soldiers. See, for example, (link).
These soldiers were honored by the Ukrainian Orthodox Church for “defending our Motherland from the aggressive invasion of Russian troops.”
However, in the eyes of Metropolitan Leonid, these fallen soldiers cannot be considered brothers but are rather “brown scum.”
The Church in Moscow and the Church in Ukraine are living in two different worlds.
Differences in perception such as these raise the question of whether the Ukrainian Orthodox Church will remain in the Moscow Patriarchate, especially when it can be seen that the Patriarch has not been neutral but has taken the side of Russia over Ukraine. I am sure that the Church in Moscow is painfully aware of this question. Perhaps this is the reason for the silence of Metropolitan Hilarion on the war – to enable him to be some form of bridge with the Ukrainian Orthodox Church at a later date.
The Holy Synod of the Moscow Patriarchate held an in-person meeting on March 24. (link)
The Patriarch’s website stated: “Due to the international situation, His Beatitude Metropolitan Onufry of Kyiv and All Ukraine, Metropolitan Vladimir of Chisinau and All Moldova, Metropolitan Innokenty of Vilna and Lithuania, and Metropolitan Anthony of Boryspil and Brovarsky could not attend the meeting.” At least three of the four had previous expressed their opposition to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
On May 20, Metropolitan Hilarion was asked whether the Bishops’ Council of the Moscow Patriarchate will be held in May 2022 as previously planned. (link)
The Metropolitan answered:
“The Council was scheduled for November , but then, due to the severe epidemic situation, it was postponed. Now other difficulties have arisen: it is very likely that many bishops will not be able to arrive in Moscow due to transport restrictions, so we will monitor the situation and at the right time we will make a decision on how and when to hold the Bishops’ Council. There are several options: one option is to hold it at the appointed time, the other option is to postpone, reschedule the Cathedral to a later date, maybe in the fall. The third option is to provide for the remote participation of bishops. We will have to weigh all these factors in order to make an appropriate decision.”
In my opinion, the bigger question is whether the bishops of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church will be willing to go to Moscow to attend the Council even if transportation were possible.
In 2017, the Bishops’ Council in amending the Statutes of the Moscow Patriarchate created a new and separate Chapter X governing the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. (link)
Under Section 9 of this Chapter, the bishops of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church participate in the work of the Bishops’ Council in accordance with Chapter III. Section 15 of Chapter III in turn provides: “None of the hierarchs who are members of the Bishops’ Council may refuse to participate in its meetings, except in cases of illness or any other reason recognized by the Council as valid.” Thus, attendance of the Ukrainian bishops at the next Bishops’ Council is mandatory. A decision by the Ukrainian Orthodox Church not to attend the next Council could signal a major break with the Moscow Patriarchate. Moscow may decide to postpone the Council to lessen the chances of this happening.
Pope Francis spent this last weekend on a pilgrimage to Malta. In a speech on April 2, the Pope made his strongest statement to date with respect to the Russian – Ukrainian war. (link) (complete text)
“Finally, there is the wind coming from the east, which often blows at dawn, which is why Homer called it ‘Eurus’ (Odyssey, V, 349.423).
“Yet from the east of Europe, from the land of sunrise, the dark shadows of war have now spread.
“We had thought that invasions of other countries, savage street fighting and atomic threats were grim memories of a distant past.
“However, the icy winds of war, which bring only death, destruction and hatred in their wake, have swept down powerfully upon the lives of many people and affected us all.
“Once again, some potentate, sadly caught up in anachronistic claims of nationalist interests, is provoking and fomenting conflicts, whereas ordinary people sense the need to build a future that, will either shared, or not be at all. Now in the night of the war that is fallen upon humanity, please, let us not allow the dream of peace to fade!”
On his flight back to Rome on April 3, Pope Francis answered the questions of journalists. (link) The Pope was asked about a possible trip to Ukraine. In this regard, the Pope stated:
“The other option is the trip that some of you have asked about; I answered with sincerity that I was planning to go, that my availability remains constant. There is no ‘no’: I am available. What are my thoughts regarding such a trip? This was the question: ‘We heard that you were thinking about a trip to Ukraine’; I said that it is on the table; it is there, one of the proposals I have received, but I don’t know if it can be done, if it is fitting, and whether it would be for the best or if it is fitting to undertake it, whether I should go… all this is in the air.
“For some time there have been considerations made regarding a meeting with Patriarch Kirill; that’s what’s being worked on, with the possibility of the Middle East as a venue for such a meeting. This is how things are being considered at the moment.”
In Africa, Father Dionysius Grishkov of the Moscow Patriarchate arrived in Rwanda from Moscow on approximately March 31. (link)
He is a 2019 graduate of the Moscow Theological Academy and is the rector of the Church of the Burning Bush in the Otradnoe District of Moscow. For a number of years he has been connected with the Missionary Commission of the Moscow Diocesan Council.
It appears that Fathers Georgy Maksimov and Alexander Novikovhave completed their recent African tours and are back in Russia. When Father Georgy was in Rwanda in February, there were two Rwandan priests who joined the Moscow Patriarchate. It appears that this number remains the same. On April 2, Father Dionysius was in Brazzaville, Republic of the Congo.
Metropolitan Leonid has now provided a rebuttal to the article which appeared in the Kenya newspaper Star on March 16 (discussed in my news report of March 20). (link)
According to Metropolitan Leonid, the recent sanctions only affected some of the Russian banks, and funds continue to flow through other Russian banks to Kenya for the construction and repair of churches, for missionary and educational activities, for the clergy, and for assistance in the case of the loss of close relatives. (link)
With respect to clergy returning to the Alexandrian Patriarchate, the Metropolitan stated that when Father Georgy Maximov left Kenya [on February 12], 92 priests in Kenya had joined the Moscow Patriarchate. Since then, five priests have returned to the Alexandrian Patriarchate, one has died, and seven priests and a deacon have now applied for admission into the Moscow Patriarchate. (link)
With respect to clerics joining the Moscow Patriarchate’s African Exarchate in the last month, the numbers seem to be fairly static. At the present time, a significant majority of the clergy that have joined the Moscow Patriarchate in Africa are in Kenya, and a large majority of these Kenyan clergy are in the diocese of Kisumu and West Kenya.
—Peter Anderson, Seattle, Washington, USA