(RNS) — A gathering between Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill, the pinnacle of the Russian Orthodox Church, seems to be scrapped after the cleric, who has been extensively criticized for his justifications for the invasion of Ukraine, pulled out of a gathering of non secular leaders in Kazakhstan subsequent month.
According to Reuters, a senior Russian Orthodox official instructed the Russian information company RIA on 24 August that Kirill won’t attend the Congress of Leaders of World Religions within the Kazakh capital of Nur-Sultan subsequent month. Francis, who’s slated to attend the gathering, was said to be hoping for an encounter with Kirill on the sidelines of the occasion.
While the 2 met in 2016 in Havana, the abrupt cancellation marks the second time because the Ukraine conflict began that an opportunity for the 2 church leaders to fulfill has been scratched. Francis was anticipated to talk with Kirill in June in Jerusalem, however Vatican officers had been involved that the encounter would have diplomatic repercussions.
Before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Francis had sought a gathering with Kirill in Moscow as a step towards reconciliation between essentially the most populous western Christian denomination and the most important within the Orthodox realm. In December 2021, Francis met with Archbishop Ieronymos, the pinnacle of Greece’s Orthodox Church, and supplied an apology for Catholic enmity towards Orthodox Christians up to now. Shortly afterward, Kirill’s high international relations aide visited Rome and mentioned “particular dates and venues” for a gathering.
With the start of the Ukraine conflict in February, nevertheless, the tenor of such a gathering modified. During a video name between the leaders in March, Francis pressed Kirill on his Ukraine rhetoric, suggesting the Russian chief’s remarks had been paying homage to spiritual language used to justify violent imperialism.
“Once upon a time there was additionally discuss in our church buildings of holy conflict or simply conflict,” Francis instructed Kirill. “Today we can’t communicate like this.”
Speaking to the Italian press after the decision, Francis criticized Kirill’s assist for the conflict and recommended the patriarch that he risked changing into “Putin’s altar boy.”
Kirill has been criticized for laying the spiritual groundwork for Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, casting Ukraine as an indivisible a part of Russia’s religious and historic legacy. He has referred to Russia’s opponents in Ukraine as “evil forces” and used a sermon to border the conflict as a part of a “metaphysical” battle towards an immoral West.
His critics have known as on the World Council of Churches to expel the Russian Orthodox Church from its ranks. The European Union reportedly drafted sanctions towards him, however finally dropped them from the final round of sanctions in June on the request of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, a Putin ally. The United Kingdom announced later that month it will sanction the ROC head.
It was not instantly clear if the 2 nonetheless intend to discover a method to meet within the close to future.