Pope Francis and Ukraine, or “Magellan’s gaze”



Does Pope Francis understand what is happening in Ukraine? When one evokes the war started by Russia, there seems to be currently, within the Curia, two theories, perfectly opposed.

The first consists in affirming that the pope, extra-European, cannot, by definition, understand what is being played out in kyiv, Kharkiv and Mariupol. “He grew up far from Europe, his references are Latin American”, said a prelate. Which reminds us that indeed, Pope Francis nurtured a distant relationship with the Old Continent, until his election in Rome in 2013. “He did not experience the Cold War in the same way as Europeans, continues the same source. And like all Latin Americans, he harbors a severe distrust of the United States. »

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But there is also another analysis in the Vatican, according to which Pope Francis understands better than anyone else the stakes of the major crisis into which Europe has entered, and the world in its wake. First, Francis nurtured ties in Argentina with the Greek-Catholic Archbishop of kyiv, Sviatoslav Chevtchouk, whom he met in Buenos Aires at the very beginning of the 2010s. The former was then archbishop of the Argentine capital and the second auxiliary bishop of the Eparchy of Santa Maria del Patrocinio of Ukrainians in Buenos Aires.

Next, the pope harbors with regard to Europe what some call “Magellan’s gaze”. An expression that comes from an interview granted by Pope Francis a few years ago, and in which he explained that from the American continent, Magellan had somehow rediscovered Europe, considering it from a greater distance. A point of view which today resembles that of Pope Francis: the fate of Old Europe is today more than ever at the center of his concerns.

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