31 August 2022, The Tablet

Ukraine outrage over Pope's condemnation of car bombing

RUSSIA / Pope laments how the innocent “pay for war”

Ukraine outrage over Pope's condemnation of car bombing

Farewell ceremony for journalist Darya Dugina at the Ostankino television center. Political scientist, leader of the Eurasia movement, Darya’s father Alexander Dugin and mother, philosopher Natalya Melentyeva.
Igor Ivanko/Kommersant/Sipa USA

Remarks by Pope Francis at his Rome general audience, describing the assassinated Russian political commentator, Darya Dugina, 29, as an “innocent victim”, were criticised by the World Congress of Ukrainians.

The congress challenged the Pope to see “places of mass inhuman abuse and murder committed by Russian war criminals” and to “support Ukraine's struggle for freedom and independence clearly and unequivocally”.

“We are concerned his public statements regarding Russian aggression unfairly equate the aggressor with his victim,” the New York-based Congress said on Monday.

Andrii Yurash, Ukraine’s ambassador to the Holy See, said it was “impossible to speak in the same categories about aggressor and victim, rapist and raped”.

The Vatican’s Kyiv nuncio, Archbishop Visvaldas Kulbokas, was called in by the Ukrainian Foreign Minister, Dmytro Kulba, who expressed “deep disappointment” at the Pope’s “unjust remarks” and said his country had had “nothing to do” with the death of the Russian TV commentator.

At the end of his general audience talk in the Paul VI hall at the Vatican on 24 August, six months after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Pope Francis repeated his calls for peace and noted that no nationalities were spared whenit came to children becoming orphans in war, saying “war is madness” on all sides.

As an example, the Pope spoke of “that poor girl flown into the air because of a bomb under her car seat in Moscow. The innocent pay for war. The innocent.”

Vatican News confirmed that the Pope was referring to the 20 August killing of Dugina. She served as press secretary for her father, Alexander Dugin — an anti-communist, ultranationalist philosopher who has called for Russia to reclaim its former territories.

Some reports speculated that he may have been the intended target of the attack, and Russia has blamed Ukraine. Meanwhile speculation continued over a possible visit to Ukraine by Pope Francis after it was announced that Patriarch Kirill of Moscow would not be attending a congress of religious leaders in Kazakhstan on 13-15 September, when he had been widely expected to meet the Pope.

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