An ability to reach agreement, to make concessions in order to achieve a common goal – seems to be a good human virtue. But when we talk about backstage agreements for the sake of personal gain, neglecting the interests of those who trust you, betraying your own principles – it can’t be related to the virtues. Such impression leaves an analysis of the Havana meeting between Pope Franciscus and Patriarch Kirill results.
In general, a number of previous popes made a lot of an effort to establish a dialogue with Russian Orthodoxy, but without success because of the Moscow position. Now Patriarchy with astonishing speed started to negotiate with the Pope, who was ready for it less than the least. The point is that, in the opinion of the overwhelming majority of analysts, Franciscus is quite weak in diplomacy. Now he blindly trusts his advisers on Foreign Relations. It is known that such practice has repeatedly put the Pope in an uncomfortable position. But the Russian Orthodox Church for ages of its history is the backbone of the Moscow authorities, so the work on the believers souls saving were always in second place in front of the state interests protection.
The tropical climate, Cuban rum and world-famous cigars, apparently assisted to the art of compromise to excess. And there are a lot of the Russian state interests – the Crimea annexation, the war in the east of Ukraine and in Syria, and sanctions imposed because of mentioned above… Therefore, the ROC is ensured with “work” and cooperation with the Vatican will be developing in these directions.
Today, a key objective for Moscow in Europe is an easing of sanctions pressure. In this regard, the influence of largest confessional structure can really help Russia in this way. It is also possible to use the moral authority of Catholicism to make a schism on the basis of the struggle for the “traditional values.”
Across the Syrian conflict Russia’s desire to acquit is being pushed through the statement of the Christians Protection from the Islamic threat. Russia has positioned itself as a long-standing “fighter” against terrorism and “defender” of Christianity. The civilized world refers to such claims with scepticism, however such assessment may be shaken if the official Vatican recognizes the necessity of Russian military presence for the protection of Syrian believers from genocide organized by the ISIL militants. It is known that representatives of the Russian Orthodox Church and the head of the Catholic Church in Syria, Ignatius Joseph III had established such cooperation long ago. The result – aggressive statements of the Syrian Catholic representative about the United States and Europe. Moreover, there is we have a situation when the Holy See receives information on the Middle East conflict from Russian affiliated sources. Thus, the political blindness of Vatican can lead to the fact that Russian military crimes “will turn” to the “world saving” activities.
One of the main directions where the Russian Orthodox Church aims to use the Catholic Church – an extension of influence in Ukraine and moral victory over their opponents, first of all – the UGCC. The comments overview on this issue brings to a disappointing conclusion – for the sake of cooperation with Russian Orthodoxy, Franciscus is ready to sacrifice his flock in Ukraine. Nowadays, the key directions of Vatican policy are Latin America, Africa and Western Europe. At the same time,
Holy See recognizes the religious hegemony of Russian Orthodoxy on the territory of Ukraine. ROC, in its turn has strengthened the information attack against Ukrainian Greek Catholics. It is understandable, after all, while UOC MP serves as a mouthpiece of the Moscow propaganda, priests wear FSS epaulets under the robes and Orthodox churches in eastern Ukraine are used as weapons storage facilities for terrorists, the UGCC became a consolidating force of the Ukrainian society. The Moscow propaganda remains traditionally cynical in this matter. Take, for example, the justification by speakers of the UOC MP the liquidation of the Uniate Church in 1946 or condemnation of Metropolitan Sheptytsky activities.
The unwillingness of the Holy See to annoy Moscow Patriarchate and the dominant role of the Moscow supporters in Vatican (for example Cardinal Koch who is known to be a Russophile) has led to deformation of the Ukrainian realities interpretation. Thus, the Pope interprets Russian-Ukrainian war only as a civil conflict in his speeches. Or, in case of talking about religious oppression in Ukraine, only conflicts with UOC MP structures in western Ukraine are mentioned, but not a word is said, for example, about the persecution (including physical annihilation) of Protestants or the Kiev Patriarchate Ukrainian Orthodox Church priests in the Russian-Ukrainian war zone or about the powerful pressure on the Muslim community in Crimea.
For a casual observer it is clear that such an “ostrich” policy is not befitting to the “vicar of God on earth”. At the time when the Russian aggressor challenged the civilized world, the very principles of mutual understanding and humanity, concluding a compromise with his conscience to the leader of the largest Christian denomination are not only criminal, but also sinful. The Catholic Church has had to apologize for their “blindness” during the Second World War. But here we are talking not even about the “ignorance” but about the directions of cooperation! It will be very difficult to apologize for such things…