Vatican again decides to unite representatives of Ukraine and Russia on Way of the Cross
The Vatican decided to combine the testimonies of Ukrainian and Russian teenagers during the procession in the Colosseum on 7 April, although last year a similar initiative with women caused outrage in Ukraine.
Details: People from lands affected by bombs, rockets, gunfire or murderous hatred have previously shared their testimonies with Pope Francis. And these memories have become the reflections that accompany this year's Stations of the Cross prayer.
The theme of the prayer is "Voices of Peace in Time of War". The pontiff himself will pray at St Martha's House due to the cold snap in Rome and his recent bronchitis.
At the tenth station, which focuses on the reflection on how Jesus was stripped of his clothes, the compilers combine the testimonies of Ukrainian and Russian teenagers.
The first one describes how he fled the city of Mariupol with his family at night, deciding to go to Italy, where his grandmother lived. At the border, he had to say goodbye to his father.
Quote: "When we arrived in Italy, I was sad. I felt stripped of everything, completely naked. I didn't know the language and didn't have a single friend. My grandmother tried to make me feel happy, but I did nothing but repeat that I wanted to go home. Eventually, my family decided to come back to Ukraine," he says.
Details: The situation in his homeland is difficult.
Another young man said: "I'm a Russian boy, and when I say that, I almost feel guilty, and at the same time, I don't understand why, and that's why I feel twice as bad. Stripped of happiness and dreams for the future."
The Russian recalls his elder brother, who went on a trip a few days after his 18th birthday, and later the boy received a letter informing him of his brother’s death.
"Everyone told us that we should be proud, but there was only great sadness and suffering at home. The same thing happened to my father and grandfather, who had left, and we have no news of them," he complained.
A Russian boy says a school friend told him in his ear that there was a war going on, and he wrote a prayer for peace at home.
Andrii Yurash, Ambassador of Ukraine to the Holy See, noted that he learned the text of the Via Crucis from the media.
The Ukrainian diplomat was outraged: "The Russian boy, in particular, will talk about his murdered brother and his father and grandfather who went missing in the war. However, he will definitely forget to mention that his relatives came to Ukraine to kill not only the Ukrainian boy's father, but the whole family... and not vice versa!"
Background: In 2022, when Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine was in full swing, the Vatican decided that a Ukrainian lady and a Russian woman should carry a cross together during the Good Friday procession with Pope Francis. This caused a flurry of criticism in Ukraine.
Sviatoslav, Primate of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church (UGCC), then asked the Holy See to reconsider the project of the Way of the Cross.