East European Outrage Prompts Vatican To Clarify Pope’s Remarks About Russian Culture – OpEd


Earlier this month, Pope Francis told an audience of young Russians that he hoped they would draw on their national traditions in building the future, remarks that not surprisingly sparked outrage in Ukraine and elsewhere in Eastern Europe (ru/politics/2023/08/30/ukraina-raskritikovala-papu-rimskogo-za-obrashhenie-k-rossiyskoy-molodezhi.html and rubaltic.ru/news/30082023-mid-litvy-vyzval-posla-vatikana-posle-zayavleniya-papy-rimskogo-o-velikoy-rossii/).

Not surprisingly, the Vatican’s press office has now issued a clarification pointing out that the Holy Father, a consistent critic of Russia’s aggression in Ukraine, did not intend by his remarks to “exalt imperialist logic” (cnbc.com/2023/08/29/pope-did-not-intend-to-glorify-russian-imperialism-in-speech-vatican-says.html).

Specifically, the press office said that “in the off-the-cuff greetings to some young Russian Catholics in recent days, as is clear from the context in which he pronounced them, the Pope intended to encourage young people to preserve and promote all that is positive in the great cultural and Russian spirituality.”

 The leader of the world’s Catholics, the representative said, “certainly [did not intend] to exalt imperialist logic and government personalities.” This statement may calm the current conflict; but at the very least, it is an indication of just how sensitive religious and ethnic issues remain in Eastern Europe.

Paul Goble

Paul Goble is a longtime specialist on ethnic and religious questions in Eurasia. Most recently, he was director of research and publications at the Azerbaijan Diplomatic Academy. Earlier, he served as vice dean for the social sciences and humanities at Audentes University in Tallinn and a senior research associate at the EuroCollege of the University of Tartu in Estonia. He has served in various capacities in the U.S. State Department, the Central Intelligence Agency and the International Broadcasting Bureau as well as at the Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Mr. Goble maintains the Window on Eurasia blog and can be contacted directly at [email protected] .

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