The Pope admits that evoking Great Russia was unfortunate
Pope Francis acknowledged yesterday that perhaps it was not "quite correct" to speak of Great Russia in some improvised comments that he dedicated last week to some young Catholics in Saint Petersburg, words that caused enormous dust and provoked strong anger in Ukraine. Francis, in a videoconference speech, reminded them that they were heirs of tsars like Peter the Great, who invaded part of Sweden and Finland, and to whom Vladimir Putin has compared himself to justify the offensive in Ukraine.
“Do not forget the inheritance. You are heirs of Great Russia: the great Russia of the saints, of the kings, the great Russia of Peter the Great, of Catherine II, that great, cultured Russian empire, of so much culture, of so much humanity. Do not renounce this inheritance. You are the heirs of the Great Mother Russia, keep going,” the Pope told them.
“Russian culture is very beautiful and should not be erased due to political problems,” he says.
Asked about the matter at the press conference returning from his trip to Mongolia, a country bordering Russia, the Pontiff clarified that perhaps it was not entirely correct to reiterate the speech of the inheritance and in which he cited Great Russia, “not geographically, but culturally", and also mentioned tsars such as Peter the Great or Catherine of Russia, but that "historians will have to talk about this." “In a dialogue with young Russians, in the end I gave them a message that I always repeat: that they take charge of their heritage. And it is the same thing that I say everywhere, the need for dialogue between grandparents and grandchildren. This was the message,” he clarified.
According to Francis, these improvised words, which the Vatican excluded from the official transcript of the speech, were an addition based on what he had studied in school. “I said, in fact, the idea of Great Russia, because the Russian heritage is very good, it is very beautiful. Think about the field of literature, in the field of music, even a Dostoyevsky who today speaks to us about mature humanism; “He has assumed this humanism, which has developed, in art and literature,” he explained to journalists aboard the papal plane.
“Russian culture is beautiful, very deep; and it should not be deleted due to political problems. In Russia there have been dark years, but the heritage has always remained that way, at hand,” she insisted.
Ukraine regrets statements it considers "imperialist propaganda" from the Kremlin
The Ukrainian authorities regretted that with this speech Francis was following the “imperialist propaganda” with which “the Kremlin justifies the murder of thousands of Ukrainians and the destruction of Ukrainian cities and towns.” On the other hand, in Moscow they were delighted with the Pope's words and the Kremlin spokesman, Dimitri Peskov, assured that it was “very good” that he knew Russian history. But yesterday, the Jesuit pope remarked that he was not thinking about imperialism, but rather he was “talking about culture,” “and the transmission of culture is never imperial, never; It is always dialogue, and he was talking about that.” “When culture is distilled and becomes ideology, that is the poison. Culture is used, but distilled into ideology,” the Pontiff extended in a long response.
The trip to Mongolia, with its nine-hour flight, has been exhausting for Jorge Mario Bergoglio, who will turn 87 in a few months and who is forced to use a wheelchair to get around. For this reason, he already stated that “taking a trip now is not as easy as at the beginning.” The Pope was asked about a possible trip to Vietnam, given that some Vietnamese Catholics traveled to Mongolia to see him and asked him to visit them as well. About this, he joked saying: “if I don't go, John XXIV will surely go,” speculating on the name of his successor.
The Pontiff also spoke of the "very respectful" relations between the Holy See and China, Mongolia's neighbor, an important issue since, with the controversial agreement for the appointment of bishops signed in 2018, the Argentine pope tries to put an end to the division of Catholics between the official Church supported by the State and the clandestine one, which obeys Rome. “I believe that we must advance in the religious aspect to understand each other better and so that Chinese citizens do not think that the Church does not accept their culture and its values and that the Church depends on another foreign power,” he said.
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