Ukraine embassy to Vatican objects to Good Friday ceremony with Russians

Ukrainians and Russians to carry cross at Via Crucis in Rome.

The Ukrainian embassy to the Holy See on Tuesday objected to the Vatican's plan for Ukrainian and Russian families to carry a wooden cross together during the Via Crucis ceremony with Pope Francis at the Colosseum on Good Friday.

Andrii Yurash, Ukraine's ambassador to the Vatican, took to Twitter to express the "general concern in Ukraine and many other communities" over plans for Ukrainians and Russians to participate side by side in the 13th station of the cross on Friday night.

"Now we are working on the issue trying to explain difficulties of its realization and possible consequences", concluded the tweet by Ambassador Yurash.

The controversy comes after the Vatican announced that the meditations for this year's Stations of the Cross would be entrusted to families, with the second-last station assigned jointly to a Ukrainian and a Russian family who co-wrote a reflection.

"We have no tears left. Anger has given way to resignation,” reads their text, "Lord, where are you? Speak to us amid the silence of death and division, and teach us to be peacemakers, brothers and sisters, and to rebuild what bombs tried to destroy.”

The pope's decision to bring Ukrainians and Russians together at the Via Crucis was defended by Fr Antonio Spadaro, editor-in-chief of the Jesuit-affiliated journal La Civiltà Cattolica.

“Pope Francis is a pastor, he announces the Gospel. He is not a politician" - Fr Spadaro told RAI television channel on Tuesday night - "Someone who gives a prophetic sign at this moment is needed."

This year sees the return of the Via Crucis to the Colosseum after the last two editions of the Roman ceremony were held in St Peter's Square, minus the crowds, due to the covid pandemic.

Part of the Vatican's Easter liturgical programme, the Via Crucis begins at 21.15 on Friday 15 April and will be broadcast live on RAI Uno.