“How many divisions does the pope have?” Stalin is said to have once asked. Pope Francis may not have any divisions, but Putin is likely to fear the pope’s increasingly vocal criticism of the Ukraine war in much the same way that China’s strongman Xi Jinping fears the Dalai Lama.
The Chinese Communists cry cedar and murder every time any government receives the Dalai Lama. The government in Beijing has four million soldiers, tanks, missiles and nuclear weapons, but is afraid of the spiritual power of a simple monk. How ridiculous. But also how telling.
Now the Pope has intensified his criticism of Putin’s war in Ukraine. Francis called this war a “perverse abuse of power.” Speaking at a church conference in the Slovak capital of Bratislava, the pope said, “Once again, humanity is threatened by a perverse abuse of power and partisan interests that condemn defenseless people to suffer every form of violence.”
Putin is a mass murderer. But Christian Orthodox Patriarch Cyril of Moscow exaggerates this terrible mass murder in Ukraine into a holy war. For this, Francis has now read the riot act to his Moscow co-religionist on the phone, saying – according to Vatican Radio – “In the past, people spoke of a holy or just war. Today we can’t talk like that anymore. Christian consciousness has evolved.” Francis to Cyril: “Wars are always unjust.”
Opposition to Cyril’s Putin support is finally stirring within the Russian Orthodox Church as well. 300 clergy of this church have now protested in a signature campaign against the war, but also against the glorification of war by their patriarch.
Courageous Russian television journalist Marina Ovsyannikova has followed her conscience and disrupted the official news broadcast of state television, holding her self-painted sign “No war” up to the live camera and shouting to the surprised TV viewers: “You are all being lied to.”
Afterward, the new Russian heroine told “Der Spiegel“, “I wanted to show that Russians are also against this war.” She was now the “number one enemy in Russia.” For her courageous act, the television journalist faces many years in prison. She knew that.
It would be very helpful if the Moscow patriarch and Putin friend would also finally discover his conscience and remember Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. Here the young man from Nazareth blessed the peacemakers and not those who glorify violence and worship war.
The healing power of religions can only become effective when their ground personnel not only make pious sayings about it, but actually live it.
Franz Alt 2022 | Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)