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Pope Francis praises Russian imperialism - Kremlin and Vatican reaction

Pope Francis praises Russian imperialism - Kremlin and Vatican reaction Pope Francis appeared to be a supporter of Russian imperialism (Photo: Getty Images)

The Kremlin has called the statement by Pope Francis praising Russian czars "very gratifying," while the Vatican has stated that the Pontiff did not intend to glorify Russian imperialism, according to Reuters.

Pope Francis was criticized last week for advising Russian youth to remember that they are heirs to czars such as Catherine II and Peter I, whom President Vladimir Putin has cited as examples to justify Moscow's war against Ukraine.

Kremlin's response

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov stated that the "pontiff knows Russian history, and this is very good," he said. "It has deep roots, and our heritage is not limited to Peter (the Great) or Catherine, it is much more ancient."

According to Peskov, historical matters are dealt with by the state and education system. He mentioned, "It's very heartening that the Pontiff's words resonate with these efforts."

Russia's inhabitants often try to trace their origins back to a group of medieval principalities centered around Kyiv, known as Kyivan Rus. Moscow was founded around 500 years later and inherited traditions and the statehood of the Golden Horde.

Vatican's Attempt to Clarify The Vatican stated on Tuesday that the Pope did not intend to glorify Russian imperialism.

"The Pope intended to encourage young people to preserve and promote all the positive aspects of the great Russian cultural and spiritual heritage, rather than exalt imperialistic logic and historical figures, whom he mentioned to point out certain historical periods," said Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni.

Ukraine's reaction

The Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs declared that Francis's words were mere imperialistic propaganda used by the Kremlin to justify the killings of thousands of Ukrainians and the destruction of Ukrainian cities and villages.

Meanwhile, the head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, Sviatoslav, expressed his expectation for an explanation from the Pope regarding the ideas he voiced during the meeting with Russian youth.

He considers the Pope's words the worst example of imperialism and extreme Russian nationalism. He believes there's a danger that these words could be perceived as support for the nationalism and imperialism that have caused the war in Ukraine today.