News by email Donate


Top Stories

Most Read

Popular Videos

Major Archbishop of the Greek Catholic Church.JPG thumb.JPG
Major Archbishop of the Greek Catholic Church.JPG
REUTERS/Valentyn Ogirenko
World News

Ukraine church leader: No deal with Russia if they see us as colony

by Reuters Journalist

The head of Ukraine's Byzantine-rite Catholic Church met Pope Francis on Monday and said there can be no dialogue with Russia as long as Moscow considered the neighbour it invaded a colony to be subjugated.

Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk's trip to the Vatican was his first trip outside Ukraine since the Russian invasion in February. He said he prefers to remain in Kyiv to be close to the people despite the bombings and hardships.

"The war in Ukraine is a colonial war and peace proposals by Russia are proposals of colonial pacification," he said after meeting the pope at the Vatican.

Shevchuk, who has several times urged the pope to visit Kyiv, gave Francis a piece of shrapnel from a Russian mine that destroyed the facade of a church in Irpin in March. An estimated 200-300 civilians were killed in Irpin, near Kyiv, before the town was taken back from Russian forces in late March.

"These proposals imply the negation of the existence of the Ukrainian people, their history, culture and even their Church. It is the negation of the very right of the Ukrainian state to exist with the sovereignty and territorial integrity that is recognised by the international community," Shevchuk said.

"With these premises, Russia's proposals lack a basis for dialogue," he said.

Kyiv says it will never agree to cede land taken by force, and that lawful referendums cannot be held in occupied territory where many people have been killed or driven out.

After the Kremlin announced the annexation of four Ukrainian provinces in September in the wake of referendums condemned by Ukraine and the West as a coercive sham, Kyiv said it was applying to join NATO, and would not negotiate with Russia as long as Vladimir Putin is Russia's president.

Last month, Pope Francis for the first time directly begged Putin to stop the "spiral of violence and death" in Ukraine and asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to be open to any "serious peace proposal".

Russian forces swept into Ukraine in what Moscow calls a "special military operation" to eliminate dangerous nationalists and protect Russian-speakers. Kyiv calls Moscow's military action an unprovoked imperialist land grab.

Ukraine is predominantly Christian Orthodox but about 10% of the population belongs to the Eastern, or Byzantine-rite, Catholic Church, whose followers are in communion with Rome.

The support of Patriarch Kirill, head of the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC), for Moscow's invasion of Ukraine has splintered the worldwide Orthodox Church and unleashed an internal rebellion.

The war has also prompted some Orthodox believers in Ukraine to abandon their allegiance to the ROC and join the country's own branch of the Orthodox Church, which Moscow refuses to recognise.

A Monthly Gift Of $11 Makes A World Of Difference

In a world of fake news there’s never been a greater need for quality Christian journalism. Premier’s mission is to provide the Church with the most up to date and relevant news, told from a Christian perspective. But we can’t do it without you.

Unlike many websites we haven't put up a paywall — we want to keep our journalism free at the point of need and as open as we can. Premier’s news output takes a lot of time, money and hard work to produce. No one in the USA is sharing news like we are across radio, magazines and online so please help us to continue that today.

For a monthly gift of $11 or more we’d also be able to send you a free copy of the brand new Premier Bible, a wonderful Anglicised version of the NLT packed with exclusive bonus content, reading plan and resources to help you get the most out of scripture.

Your monthly support will make a world of difference. Thank you.

Support Us
Continue the conversation on our Facebook page

Related Articles

Sign up to our newsletter to stay informed with news from a Christian perspective.

News by email