The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry has responded to Pope Francis's speech to the participants of the X All-Russian Day of Catholic Youth in St. Petersburg on 25 August.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Oleh Nikolenko quoted the Pope as saying in that speech: "Never forget your heritage. You are the descendants of great Russia: the great Russia of saints, rulers, the great Russia of Peter the Great, Catherine the Great, that empire - great, enlightened, great culture and great humanity. Never give up this heritage. You are the descendants of the great Mother Russia, so go forward with it. And thank you - thank you for your way of being, for your way of being Russians."
"It is with this kind of imperialist propaganda, 'spiritual staples' and the 'need' to save 'great Mother Russia' that the Kremlin justifies the murders of thousands of Ukrainians and the destruction of hundreds of Ukrainian cities and villages," Nikolenko commented on the Pope's remark.
He stressed that "it is very unfortunate that Russian great-power ideas, which are, in fact, the reason for Russia's chronic aggressiveness, are consciously or unconsciously coming from the mouth of the Pope, whose mission, in our understanding, is precisely to open the eyes of Russian youth to the destructive course of the current Russian leadership."