© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Pope Francis (L) and Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill stand collectively after a gathering in Havana, February 12, 2016. REUTERS/Alejandro Ernesto/Pool/File Photograph
By Philip Pullella
VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – Pope Francis leaves on Tuesday for a peace assembly of world spiritual leaders in Kazakhstan marked by the conspicuous absence of Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill, who helps the struggle in Ukraine.
Kirill had been anticipated to attend the Seventh Congress of Leaders of World and Conventional Religions, and Francis had a number of instances mentioned he was prepared to speak to him.
Their assembly in Cuba in 2016 was the primary between a pope and a Russian Orthodox patriarch because the Nice Schism of 1054 divided Christianity into Jap and Western branches.
However the Russian Church abruptly introduced final month that Kirill would skip the assembly within the Kazak capital, Nur-Sultan. It gave no purpose.
Some high Vatican officers had been relieved that the encounter wouldn’t happen due to the dangerous optics of the pope assembly with a key backer of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, in keeping with a senior Vatican supply.
Ukraine’s ambassador to the Vatican, Andreii Kurash, additionally instructed the Vatican that his authorities wouldn’t look positively on a pope-patriarch assembly, preferring that the pope first go to Kyiv, in keeping with the supply.
Kirill has given enthusiastic backing to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which the patriarch views as a bulwark in opposition to a West he calls decadent.
His stance has induced a rift with the Vatican and unleashed an inside rebel that has led to the severing of ties by some native Orthodox Church buildings with the Russian Orthodox Church.
The Vatican has been attempting to fix strained relations with Ukraine after the pope upset Kyiv final month by referring to Russian ultra-nationalist Darya Dugina, who was killed by a automobile bomb close to Moscow, as an harmless sufferer of struggle.
Nonetheless, the struggle in Ukraine is more likely to solid an extended shadow on the assembly, which is because of be attended by greater than 100 delegations from about 50 nations.
Talking at his Sunday handle, Francis referred to as his Kazakhstan journey “a pilgrimage of dialogue and peace” and within the very subsequent line requested for prayers for the Ukrainian individuals, who he usually has mentioned had been being “martyred”.
The brand of the journey is a dove carrying an olive department.
There are solely about 125,000 Catholics among the many 19 million inhabitants of the huge Central Asian nation, which is a former Soviet Republic. About 70% of the Kazakhs are Muslim and about 26% Orthodox Christians.
Francis, who makes use of a cane and a wheelchair due to a knee ailment, will say a Mass for the tiny Catholic group.
The spiritual leaders are on account of maintain a silent prayer at the beginning of the assembly on Wednesday and situation a joint assertion on the finish.
Francis is scheduled to carry non-public conferences with a number of spiritual leaders however the Vatican has not but introduced who they’re.