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Ukraine crisis poisons Catholic-Orthodox relations

Pope Francis (2nd L) speaks with Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk (2nd R) during a private audience at the Vatican on November 12, 2013 in this photo released by Osservatore RomanoThe crisis in Ukraine is undermining reconciliation efforts between the Vatican and the Russian Orthodox Church and has shown up Pope Francis’s inability to make his peace message heard in the conflict-torn country, analysts said. Francis has called for dialogue in Ukraine — as he does for conflicts around the world — but the Vatican has kept a distance and did not take a position on Russia’s annexation of Crimea in March or subsequent hostilities in the east of the country. The pope was faced with an impossible task, with the Russian Orthodox Church regularly accusing Ukrainian Greek Catholics allied with the Vatican of supporting far-right nationalists and sabotaging Rome-Moscow relations. Metropolitan Hilarion, who acts as the Russian Orthodox Church’s foreign minister, accused the Greek Catholic hierarchy in June of playing a “very destructive role”.

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