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Analysis-Naming and shaming Russia not part of pope’s diplomatic playbook, experts say -Breaking


© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Pope Francis leads the Angelus prayer from a window of the Apostolic Palace at Saint Peter’s Sq., on the Vatican, March 6, 2022 Vatican Media/­Handout by way of REUTERS/File Picture

By Philip Pullella

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – Because the begin of the battle in Ukraine, Pope Francis has referred to as out “those that make battle”, condemned violation of worldwide legislation, spoken of individuals “oppressed by bombs and worry” and lamented Ukraine as a “martyred nation”.

However he has shied away from publicly utilizing the phrases “Russia” or “invasion” in talking publicly of the battle, making him one of many few Western leaders not to take action.

On Sunday he got here closest to pointing a finger instantly at Russia by implicitly rejecting Moscow’s use of the time period “particular navy operation” for its invasion of Ukraine.

“In Ukraine, rivers of blood and tears are flowing. This isn’t only a navy operation however a battle which sows loss of life, destruction and distress,” he mentioned in his weekly deal with to crowds gathered in St. Peter’s Sq..

However once more, the R-word and the I-word had been notably absent.

“This incomprehensible obstinacy of his shouldn’t be good,” mentioned an editorial on the Il Sismografo web site, which specialises in Vatican and Catholic affairs.

“The rights of man, of peoples, of countries, are at play right here,” the editorial mentioned, including that the pope ought to publicly name out Russian President Vladimir Putin because the aggressor and enchantment to Russian Orthodox Church Patriarch Kirill, who backs Putin.

However specialists say naming and shaming aren’t a part of the Vatican’s diplomatic play ebook.

“These are the nuances which have been practised by Vatican diplomacy all through the centuries,” mentioned Victor Gaetan, writer of “God’s Diplomats”, a 2021 ebook about Vatican diplomacy.

“You at all times go away room for the subsequent dialog, for the subsequent dialogue,” he informed Reuters by phone from Washington.


On Sunday, the pope mentioned “the Holy See is keen to do something to place itself on the service of peace”.

Ukraine has mentioned it could welcome Vatican mediation and Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin has mentioned it’s keen to “facilitate” dialogue”.

Whereas the pope has not been particular, prime aides have been extra direct. Parolin described the battle as “unleashed by Russia”, and Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, head of the Vatican division that oversees Japanese-rite Catholic Church buildings, referred to as it an “unjustified invasion”.

“Decrease-level officers making stronger statements than the pope is a little bit of a departure from custom however it’s apparently a part of the technique,” Gaeten mentioned.

On Feb. 25, a day after the invasion began, the pope, in an unprecedented gesture, went to the Russian embassy to the Vatican to speak to Moscow’s ambassador. No particulars emerged.

One complication for the Vatican is its relations with the Russian Orthodox Church.

In 2016, Francis turned the primary pope to satisfy a frontrunner of the Russian Orthodox Church for the reason that nice schism that break up Christianity into Japanese and Western branches in 1054.

Each side have declared a willingness to work in the direction of unity however they’re nonetheless far aside theologically and over what position the papacy would play in an ultimately reunited Church.

Any direct criticism by the pope of Russia or Putin might set again relations by many years and thwart a second assembly between the pope and Patriarch Kirill that each side had hoped to carry this yr, diplomats say.


Of 300 million Orthodox Christians on the earth, about 100 million are in Russia and greater than 30 million are in Ukraine, a few of these in union with the Russian Orthodox Church.

There are additionally about 4.5 million Byzantine-rite Catholics in Ukraine who’re in allegiance with Rome. They’re closely pro-West and Vatican sources say the pope is eager to keep away from something that might result in non secular strife.

When Kirill and the pope met in Havana in 2016, they issued a joint assertion deploring any hostility in Ukraine and vowed that their church buildings would work for social concord within the nation.

However in recent times Kirill seems to have grown more and more nearer to Putin.

On Sunday, Kirill delivered an anti-West sermon praising the individuals of Donbass, the separatist area in Japanese Ukraine that’s backed by Moscow. He lauded them for resisting what he referred to as sinful Western practices, similar to homosexual pleasure parades.

Final week Archbishop Stanislaw Gadecki, president of the Polish Bishops Convention, despatched a public letter to Kirill asking him to inform Russian troopers “to not take part on this unjust battle”, calling such a refusal “an ethical obligation” earlier than God.

Some are calling on the pope to make use of equally sturdy language.