On Friday afternoon, among the tons of of 1000’s of younger Roman Catholic pilgrims submitting right into a park in Lisbon to hope with Pope Francis stopped to embrace their Ukrainian friends standing on a small hill, holding blue-and-yellow flags and sporting black shirts that includes the faces of youngsters killed in Russia’s invasion of their nation.
“So many individuals are displaying us assist,” mentioned Anastasiia Koval, 17, who wept as younger Catholics from Portugal, Spain, Italy, america and lots of different nations hugged her. A priest stopped to wipe away her tears. “The pope — I don’t suppose so.”
Since declining to call Russia because the aggressor early within the warfare, Pope Francis has repeatedly expressed solidarity with the Ukrainian folks, even calling them “martyred.” However his strategies of pursuing peace — together with a secret mission that baffled Ukrainian officers, and a reluctance to extra fulsomely condemn Russia and President Vladimir V. Putin — have bothered most of the Ukrainian Catholics who got here to this week’s main assembly of Catholic youth from all over the world.
Earlier than his arrival on Saturday in Fátima, in central Portugal, the Vatican mentioned that Francis would pray there for peace in Ukraine and the world whereas bringing Russia’s invasion again into view. However after praying silently in entrance of the city’s shrine and a statue of the Virgin Mary, he made no point out of a prayer for peace or Ukraine, and as a substitute reiterated his central World Youth Day message that there’s room for everybody within the church.
The pope mentioned “nothing,” mentioned the Rev. Roman Demush, who leads the youth ministry workplace for the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church. “The warfare ought to make us scream, and it silences.”
The Vatican mentioned that the pope had prayed “silently for peace” and tweeted from the pope’s account his prayer, which didn’t identify both nation however consecrated the church and world, “particularly these international locations at warfare,” to Mary.
Fátima itself has hyperlinks to Russia that return greater than a century. The city is best-known in Catholic custom for 3 secret, apocalyptic prophesies mentioned to be delivered to a few youngsters by an apparition of the Virgin Mary in 1917, when it was a poor village. One of many youngsters went on to turn into a nun, and mentioned that one prophecy had been that peace would reign on Earth if the pope and the world’s bishops transformed Russia, which turned Communist within the 12 months of the apparitions, and consecrated the nation to the “Immaculate Coronary heart of Mary.”
The prophecy has drawn renewed consideration since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and the roughly 500 younger Ukrainians who made the journey to World Youth Day in Lisbon this week began their pilgrimage in Fátima. Fifteen of them additionally met with Francis on the Vatican embassy in Lisbon.
However for these hoping that he would possibly take up their trigger at World Youth Day, there was disappointment, simply as there was final 12 months when Francis delivered a prayer for peace that consecrated each Russia and Ukraine to Mary, leaving many Ukrainians feeling lumped in with their aggressors.
“He mentioned he was impotent in entrance of this evil,” Father Demush mentioned after the assembly, including that the pope had expressed frustration at being unable to cease the violence. Largely, he mentioned, the pope listened intensely because the younger Ukrainian pilgrims spoke about their struggling within the warfare and the family and friends they’d misplaced.
One of many younger folks, Valentyna Velychko, 17, from Melitopol, mentioned she had spoken of her life underneath occupation and the expertise of getting missiles fall on her city, how three of her associates had been killed, and the way her boyfriend had misplaced limbs after stepping on a land mine.
Dmytro Bohak, 19, mentioned he had advised the pope about accidents he suffered whereas driving ambulances and different automobiles into Ukraine. He additionally recalled how one other woman had introduced tears to the pope’s eyes when she advised him that she might not acknowledge her personal father, who was disfigured bodily and spiritually by the warfare.
However Mr. Bohak mentioned that what was actually wanted was motion by Francis.
“It’s not sufficient simply to hear — he has to do one thing,” he mentioned. “We would like the pope to be clear, in an comprehensible manner, that Russia is a terrorist state.”
On Friday afternoon, the bigger Ukrainian group arrange on the curve of a central Lisbon thoroughfare resulting in the park the place the pope solemnly commemorated the Manner of the Cross. They sang their anthem between the Christian rock songs that boomed from the loudspeakers, and dispatched the members who spoke English to speak to the younger folks marching by.
“Russia kills us on a regular basis,” Vira Ivanchuk, 24, advised some Spanish ladies who had stopped to take a look at the rows of Ukrainians. “The faces on the shirts are a small proportion of the youngsters they’re killing.”
After they left, Ms. Ivanchuk defined why she had felt it essential to make her case.
“I perceive that that is possibly not the place, a competition, the place folks need to speak about this,” she mentioned. “However we’d like extra weapons. We want F-16s, as a result of we don’t have aerial capabilities. We want extra weapons, assist, financial sanctions, and please pray for us.”
The park continued to fill with 800,000 younger Catholics because the Ukrainians stood largely motionless. Some traded conventional Ukrainian dolls with People who gave out purple, white and blue rubber bracelets.
Olena Syniuhu, 19, from Lviv, who handed out the dolls, mentioned she had been nervous that among the younger folks — particularly People, who she mentioned had “given such an enormous assist to us” — can be exasperated with them. As a substitute, she mentioned, she discovered herself subsequent to a gaggle of youngsters from Miami on Thursday evening who made it abundantly clear “they had been with us. I might see it of their eyes, it was like free remedy.”
Ms. Syniuhu mentioned she hadn’t seen any Russians there, “and I don’t need to see any.”
Different pilgrims stopped to embrace the Ukrainians.
“It appeared like the best factor to do,” mentioned Anna Susanetto, 18, from Italy, who hugged the ladies.
“I needed to inform them that I’m with them and in opposition to Russia,” mentioned Kristina Kosarkova, 16, from the Czech Republic. “I would like the pope to unite the world for Ukraine, and in opposition to Russia.”
Josephine José Alimene, 27, from Mozambique, wept when she noticed the rows of Ukrainians. A few of the Ukrainian ladies came to visit to hug her.
Ms. Alimene and her buddy Thelma Mangue, 44, who each dabbed their eyes with their flowing skirts, accepted the comfort. “We all know what it’s to be in warfare,” Ms. Mangue mentioned.
The occasion was about to start, and Francis arrived in his popemobile, circling Marquis of Pombal Sq., on the perimeter of which stood the Ukrainians. As pilgrims rushed ahead to get a greater look, the Ukrainians stood nonetheless.
Ms. Koval expressed hope that Francis would use his Fátima go to to hope for them.
“I don’t need him to say that Ukraine should forgive Russia, as a result of lots of our individuals are dying and we’ll by no means forgive them,” she mentioned by means of tears. “And I hate Russia for that.”