- Program name: Religious Freedom Matters
Russia’s ‘False Story’ (Season 4 — Ep. 1): George Weigel Weighs in on the Ukraine Crisis
George Weigel of the Ethics and Public Policy Center gives important context on the Russia and Ukraine conflict. Also, Father Benedict Kiely of Nasarean.org, an advocacy and aid organization for persecuted Christians, talks about the special need to support Ukrainians displaced in their own country by the war.
Threats to religious freedom around the world are growing at a horrifying rate. Most of the time, regrettably, the world doesn’t notice or, worse, deliberately looks the other way. That’s why the fourth season of Religious Freedom Matters, the podcast brought to you by The Conscience Project and National Catholic Register, will be looking at specific hotspots across the globe where people of faith are being harassed or even killed. We’re talking about India, China, and parts of the Middle East and Africa — a frighteningly large percentage of the globe.
In episode 1, hosted by Andrea Picciotti-Bayer, director of The Conscience Project, and Joan Desmond, senior editor at the Register, George Weigel, distinguished scholar at the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, DC, joins as an expert guest to give important context on Russia and Ukraine. The current conflict, Weigel explains, has historical roots in false claims by Russian Orthodoxy. These claims continue to be advanced by current Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill, a close ally of Russia’s President Vladimir Putin.
Weigel’s hard-hitting comments will not be welcomed by everyone in Rome. He laments the Vatican’s past “obsession” with fostering ecumenical relations with the Russian Orthodox patriarch and its tepid defense of the people of Ukraine, a people who have recently embraced Western ideals that include religious freedom. St. John Paul II’s biographer also has harsh words for a small group of isolationist Catholics in the US who seem indifferent to the plight of Ukrainians. In contrast, most American Catholics pray for and are contributing to Catholic aid agencies, like the Knights of Columbus, that assist those who have been affected by the invasion.
Andrea also speaks with Father Benedict Kiely, a priest of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walshingham and founder of Nasarean.org, an advocacy and aid organization for persecuted Christians. Father Ben just returned from a visit to Ukraine during the period when Greek Catholics, who follow a Byzantine calendar, celebrate Easter. He admired the resolve of the people and the beauty of their liturgical celebrations; he talks about the special need to support Ukrainians who have been displaced from their homes and still remain in the country.
Both our guests point to the question: can we be certain that the Church is doing enough to protect Ukrainian Catholics?