Denver Newsroom, April 14, 2022 / 3:07 p.m. (CNA).
Another Ukrainian bishop has expressed concern over the incorporation of Russian and Ukrainian families into Pope Francis’ Stations of the Cross devotion this Good Friday, noting that many Ukrainians find it difficult to understand this portrayal in the context of aggression Russian continues.
“In itself, this gesture of reconciliation is good, but its details may be incomprehensible and unacceptable to those who now suffer from the aggressor. This is why such a strong reaction occurred. Bishop Vitaliy Kryvytskyi of Kyiv-Zhytomyr said in a Facebook post April 12.
On Monday, the Vatican released the meditations and prayers for the pope’s Via Crucis, or Stations of the Cross. The devotion must take place at the Colosseum in Rome, a practice dating back more than two centuries.
The Way of the Cross is a widespread observance of Good Friday in Latin Rite Catholic practice. The devotion draws from the Gospels and Christian tradition, focusing meditation and reflection on fourteen scenes or “stations” of Christ’s last days, from his death sentence to his crucifixion and burial.
This year the Pope’s Via Crucis which will focus this year on the “crosses” of family life. The thirteenth station, “Jesus dies on the cross,” features a depiction alluding to the recent Russian invasion of Ukraine. A Ukrainian family and a Russian family must read a reflection they wrote together on how their lives have been turned upside down by the pain of war.
Bishop Kryvytskyi is one of many Latin Rite bishops who head six dioceses and one archdiocese in Ukraine. They serve about 370,000 lay people, or about one percent of the total population. The Latin Rite Catholic population is concentrated in western Ukraine and has cultural ties to Poland and Hungary.
The Bishop lamented how news of this performance affected his fellow Ukrainians.
“I don’t want to be a judge for anyone, and I won’t be original in commenting on the scenario of the Stations of the Cross on Good Friday at the Colosseum, where the cross should be carried jointly by Ukrainians and Russians,” he said. declared, according to the Religious Information Service of Ukraine, “I share the opinion of many compatriots that the question of its thirteenth station hurts rather than unites the warring peoples, especially since the Russia does not stop its plans for aggression.”
At the thirteenth station, Russian and Ukrainian families must carry a wooden cross together into the Colosseum before passing it on to a migrant family, who will carry the cross for the final station.
“Why has my land become as dark as Golgotha? We have no more tears. Anger gave way to resignation,” says the text of the reflection. “Lord, where are you? Speak to us in the silence of death and division, and teach us to be peacemakers, brothers and sisters, and to rebuild what the bombs tried to destroy,” he continues.
The prayer that follows the meditation calls the pierced side of Christ a “source of reconciliation for all people” and asks God that “families devastated by tears and blood may believe in the power of forgiveness.”
Bishop Kryvytskyi explained the concerns and objections using the example of a joint replacement procedure. The procedure is not complex in itself but becomes complicated when the bone in the joint suffers from severe inflammation.
“A new joint isn’t a bad thing, but it won’t fall off where you want it if the disease isn’t cured,” he said.
On April 12, Ukraine’s new ambassador to the Holy See, Andrii Yurash, said his embassy “understands and shares the general concern in Ukraine” about this representation. His embassy tries to explain the “difficulties” and the “possible consequences” of the way in which the Stations of the Cross in Rome integrates the situation in Ukraine.
Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuck of Kyiv-Halych, head of Ukraine’s Greek Catholic Church, said the portrayal was “untimely”, “ambiguous” and “even offensive”. He expressed concern that the decision “does not take into account the context of Russia’s military aggression against Ukraine”.
Bishop Kryvytskyi’s Facebook comment included a photo of Michelangelo’s Pietà.
“It seems to me that over the past 24 hours I have done everything to convey the inconsistency of this liturgical gesture in the context of the terrible war and its possible planned escalation,” he said.
“I give the rest to God. I am also confident that I have done everything possible on my own behalf not to say a word of unnecessary condemnation towards those who have not fully weighed all the circumstances.
“I made a mistake trying to make my own efforts to stop the war. I sincerely hope that the organizers will still have the opportunity to correct the scenario of the Stations of the Cross and avoid further disputes on this subject,” the Bishop said.
Ukraine’s 44.1 million people are predominantly Eastern Orthodox, although about 9%, or about 3.6 million people, are Greek Catholics, belonging to Byzantine Rite churches in communion with Rome.
Catholic churches were severely persecuted in Ukraine when the country was part of the Soviet Union. The renewed conflict between Russia and Ukraine in the 2010s raised fears of church conflict and persecution.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine began on February 24. Russia attempted to justify the invasion by claiming that military forces were needed to “demilitarize” the country, to protect Russian-speakers in eastern Ukraine, and to prevent Ukraine from further integrating into the defensive . NATO alliance, among other reasons. The Russian government tried to avoid portraying the invasion as a war.
The Ukrainian government and its supporters strongly reject Russia’s claims.
Since the invasion, more than 1,800 civilians have been killed, and the number is expected to rise as more deaths are confirmed. Millions more people were forced to flee their homes and thousands of military fighters also died in the fighting.
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