At a time when the drums of war seem to be very loud, with thousands of Russian soldiers on the Ukrainian border, the Church reaffirms its commitment to peace, dialogue and support for the most threatened populations.
This commitment was reaffirmed by Bishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk, Archbishop of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, at a press conference organized last Friday by Aid to the Church in Need (ACN)..
The Bishop underlined the essential role that the Church has been playing among the populations most affected by the conflict, mentioning that there is already a serious humanitarian crisis.
“Most people in the Donetsk and Luhansk region are over 65 years old and cannot receive their pensions today. Therefore, we are facing a serious humanitarian crisis in this territory, and assistance is becoming more difficult. Archbishop Shevchuk explained. “The priests who remain there with our people are the heroes of our time. They won’t run away. We will stay with our people, just as we stayed with Crimea.”
The situation in Ukraine is very uncertain and, despite all diplomatic efforts, the military escalation seems unstoppable. For the leader of the largest Greek-Catholic Church in the world, it is important to respond to the threat of war with the strength of prayer, fighting what he calls the “new idolatry of violence”.
“With prayer and international support, we can say no to violence, no to war. There is a new idolatry of violence emerging all over the world, and as Christians we have to say no to violence, no to military action,” Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk said, adding that “dialogue, cooperation and solidarity can help us to overcome difficulties and problems in today’s world”.
ACN has been involved in supporting the Ukrainian Church for several decades. Projects include, training of about nine hundred seminarians, providing material, financial and spiritual assistance to members of religious orders that help the poorest and also the maintenance and restoration of seminaries, monasteries and churches.
This support from ACN will continue according to International Executive President of ACN, Dr. Thomas Heine Geldern who said, “We will continue to support those who stand with their people,” said Thomas Heine-Geldern.