Zelensky to the Pope: “The Church is at the front, not mediating. Ukraine will never raise the white flag”


By John

«I thank every Ukrainian chaplain who is in the army, in the Defense Forces. They are on the front lines, protecting life and humanity, supporting with prayer, dialogue and actions. This is what the Church is: he is with people, not somewhere, two thousand five hundred kilometers away, virtually mediating between someone who wants to live and someone who wants to destroy you.” Thus Volodymyr Zelensky, in reference to the Pope's words. “Russian murderers and torturers do not move to Europe just because they are held by Ukrainians with weapons and under the blue and yellow flag,” he added.

«Our flag is yellow and blue»the banner “by which we live, die and conquer. We will never raise other flags”. Also Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba sends back Pope Francis' appeal to choose the path of negotiation for peace in Ukraine, expressing in no uncertain terms all the indignation of Kiev which is not willing to accept the surrender. «Russian madness must lose this war and we will do everything for this», also stated the Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky without directly quoting the Holy Father, with whom the distance is now sidereal. Meanwhile, Moscow is gloating: “Every expert, every politician, every diplomat today understands” that the situation in Ukraine “is at a dead end”, the spokeswoman for the Russian Foreign Ministry Maria Zakharova commented to ANSA, according to which the Pontiff does not speak to Kiev, but to the West, which “has failed”, to ask it to “put aside its ambitions and admit that it was wrong”. “Many diplomats and countries are asking for negotiations,” added the spokeswoman, maintaining that Russia has never backed out of any negotiations. But, as is known, on the Kremlin's terms.

Kuleba however “thanked His Holiness Pope Francis for his constant prayers for peace”, also reiterated in the last Angelus. But rather than making calls for surrender, “the Pope should find the opportunity to make an apostolic visit to Ukraine”, said the minister, relaunching the invitation once again. But he accused the Pope of putting “good and evil” on the same level “calling them negotiations”. When it comes to the white flag, “we have known this strategy of the Vatican since the first half of the 20th century”, the head of Ukrainian diplomacy then attacked, in a clear reference to the accusations of the Church's silence in the face of Nazi crimes. “I invite you to avoid repeating the mistakes of the past”, is his warning. The Ukrainian embassy to the Holy See also made comparisons with history and did not hide its irritation: “Has anyone ever spoken seriously about the peace with Hitler and a white flag to satisfy him? The lesson is only one: if we want to end the war, we must do everything to kill the Russian Dragon.

Francis' words – so direct for the first time in inviting Kiev to negotiate – also widen the rift with the local Catholic community: «In Ukraine no one has the opportunity to surrender! And all those who look with skepticism at our ability to stand, we say: come to Ukraine and you will see!”, said the head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, Sviatoslav Shevchuk. The allies also rally around Kiev's fight against the Russian invader: «How about, for balance, encouraging Putin to have the courage to withdraw his army from Ukraine? Peace would be achieved immediately without the need for negotiations”, commented the Foreign Minister of Catholic Poland, Radoslaw Sikorski, polemically. And from the Baltic countries, the president of Latvia Edgars Rinkevics highlighted that “we must not capitulate in the face of evil but fight it and defeat it so that it raises the white flag”. For the EU ambassador to the Holy See Alexandra Valkenburg, it is Russia that “can immediately put an end to this war while respecting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine”. It was obvious that the pontiff's words would cause indignation and anger in Ukraine: after more than two years of war, the calls for dialogue remain unacceptable for Kiev which sees no other option than to fight the Russian invader. A battle that now often crosses the border, reaching the heart of Russia: Leningrad Governor Alexander Drozdenko said a drone was shot down in Russia's northwestern region, causing the closure of airspace and the temporary suspension of operations at St. Petersburg airport. A woman died in a village in the Kursk region from an attack by Kiev and 4 Ukrainian drones were destroyed in Belgorod, authorities charged. Meanwhile, it is at the front that the Ukrainians are struggling to obtain results after the Russian advance of recent weeks. Obtained – writes CNN – also through the use of the powerful Fab-1500 aerial bomb which is apparently decimating Ukrainian defenses. And in Zaporizhzhia, Kiev denounced that Russian troops used chloropicrin gas grenades to “suffocate Ukrainian soldiers.”