ROME — The Vatican has begun minting a commemorative 50-euro silver “Peace” coin, the entire proceeds of which will be destined for charitable works in Ukraine.
This official medallion bears the word “Peace” in both Latin and Ukrainian (PAX – MИP) and features on the obverse a young mother and two children fleeing a city destroyed by bombs, all their lives in a suitcase and a soft toy in one of the children’s hands.
According to the two designing artists, Orietta Rossi and Daniela Longo, the etched images are an appeal to silence the roar of weapons as well as a summons to the duties of hospitality and solidarity.
On the reverse of the coin, a dove carrying an olive branch forms the central figure, surmounting Pope Francis’ papal coat of arms. Above the dove is a transcription in Italian of part of a prayer composed by the pope and read by him during the general audience of March 16, 2022.
The prayer reads: “Lord Jesus, born under the bombs of Kiev, who died in his mother’s arms in a bunker in Kharkiv, sent at the age of twenty years to the front, have mercy on us.”
On Wednesday, veteran Vatican journalist John L. Allen, Jr., penned an article titled, “Why it’s so difficult to figure out what the Vatican thinks about Ukraine,” which noted that the pope’s statements on Ukraine “seem almost deliberately calculated to keep people guessing.”
The article observed that in a single interview Francis “accused Patriarch Kirill of Moscow, head of the Russian Orthodox Church, of being Putin’s ‘altar boy,’ but also suggested that the conflict may have started due to ‘the barking of NATO at Russia’s door.’”
“Francis has been photographed kissing a Ukrainian flag from Bucha, the site of alleged war crimes, but he won’t name ‘Russia’ or ‘Putin’ as the aggressors,” Allen added, all of which has led to a good deal of consternation.
By contrast, Ukrainian Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk has held up the example of the Australian Bishops, who have been unafraid to call out Russian President Vladimir Putin by name for his attempted genocide of the Ukrainian people.
“The bishops of Australia clearly say who the criminal is,” Shevchuk stated on Tuesday. “They are clear about how many years — decades and centuries — Ukraine has known oppression and been destroyed by the imperial ambitions of our northern neighbor.”