The collection wanted by the Pope, aims to help especially the elderly and children affected by the violence that has caused thousands of deaths and a million refugees. Perhaps a gesture of reconciliation with the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church, after disagreements following the meeting between Francis and the Russian Patriarch Kirill, with which Ukrainian Catholics felt "betrayed". An appeal also against landmines.
Vatican City (AsiaNews) - Pope Francis has called for "a special collection in all Catholic churches of Europe on Sunday, April 24 next" to express “my personal closeness and solidarity as well as that of the entire Church to Ukraine". The appeal was voiced at the end of the Mass of Divine Mercy, presided by the Pope this morning in St Peter's Square, before the recitation of the Regina Caeli, the Marian prayer that replaces the Angelus during the Easter season.
"On this day - said the Pope - which is like the heart of the Holy Year of Mercy, my thoughts go to all the people with the greatest thirst for reconciliation and peace. I think, in particular, of the drama of those who suffer the consequences of violence in Ukraine: of all those who remain in those lands devastated by the hostilities that have already caused several thousand deaths, and those many - over a million – who were driven to leave by the serious persistent situation. Those most affected are the elderly and children. In addition to accompanying them with my constant thought and with my prayer, I have decided to promote humanitarian support in their favor. To do this, there will be a special collection in all Catholic churches in Europe on Sunday, April 24. I invite the faithful to join this initiative of the Pope with a generous contribution. This act of charity, as well as alleviating material suffering, aims to express the my personal closeness and solidarity and that of the entire Church [ with Ukraine]. I fervently hope that it will help promote, without further delay, peace and respect of rights in that land, which is so tried".
Faithful to the Vatican line, Pope Francis is silent on the question of the Crimea, which split - with the help of Russia -from Ukraine, as well as the war that continues for two years, with the territories of the East Ukraine declaring independence from Kiev. This position has created a discreet discontent in the Greek-Catholic Church of Ukraine, which instead denounces the open and heavy-handed influence of Moscow.
Moreover, Pope Francis’ meeting with Patriarch Kirill in Cuba and the Joint Declaration, which speaks of overcoming the "Uniate" solution to the problem of the ecumenical relationship between Catholics and Orthodox and of the war in Ukraine as a conflict between two "parties", has created resentment among Eastern Catholics, who instead talk about "Russian aggression". The Major Archbishop of Kiev, Sviatoslav Shevchuk, has even said that the Declaration was full of "half-truths" and that the Greek-Catholic Church felt "betrayed" by the Vatican.
The collection personally launched by Francis appears somewhat to be a gesture of reconciliation.
The Pope also mentioned that tomorrow is World Day against landmines. "Too many people - he said - continue to be killed or maimed by these terrible weapons, and brave men and women risk their lives to reclaim the mined land. We must renew our commitment for a mine-free world".