The head of the Ukrainian Catholic Church said he was consoled by Pope Francis’ words of understanding and tenderness after he expressed the disappointment of Ukrainians with a joint declaration signed by the pope and the Russian Orthodox patriarch.
The Pope’s remarks were “truly the opening of the doors of mercy,” said Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk of Kiev-Halych, head of the Ukrainian Catholic Church.
Pope Francis and Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill of Moscow signed a joint declaration in Cuba on February 12 and, in an interview the next day, the archbishop said it contains unclear statements on the war in Eastern Ukraine and on the identity of the Ukrainian Catholic Church. He also said his people were deeply disappointed in the declaration’s wording.
Responding on February 17 to a reporter’s questions about the archbishop’s critique, Pope Francis said everyone has a right to his or her own opinions about the declaration and the archbishop’s criticisms must be read in light of the experience of Ukrainian Catholics.
Parts of the joint deceleration were certainly disappointing, but it's important to bear in mind this was the first meeting between Rome and Moscow. Establishing just a little common ground was an important step.