Prayers after violence, deaths in Ukraine
As the political crisis in Ukraine continues, the Pope and Ukrainian Catholic bishops have issued urgent appeals to all Catholics for continued prayers for the Eastern European country.
“The danger that our neighbour (Russia) will provoke a civil war has not passed,” Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk of Kiev-Halych told reporters in Rome on Tuesday, adding that the protests have solidified the Ukrainian people’s commitment to independence, freedom and democracy.
“We hope for the solidarity, spiritual support of our brothers and sisters in the Faith,” Bishop Borys Gudziak, who heads the Ukrainian Catholic eparchy of France, added. “Grace is what gives us life. God is the God of history and we pray to God with the Church universal that there be peace and justice in Ukraine. We are very grateful at the consistory the Holy Father appealed for prayer for Ukraine before all of the assembled cardinals.”
Pope Francis had assured his prayers to those suffering in the Ukraine during the second day of meetings at the Extraordinary Consistory of Cardinals at the Synod Hall in the Vatican.
“I would like to send a greeting, both from me personally and in the name of everyone present, to the Ukrainian Cardinals: Cardinal Marian Jaworski, Emeritus of Lviv; and Cardinal Ljubomyr Husar, emeritus archbishop of Kiev—who are suffering much in these days and have many difficulties in their homeland,” the Pope said. The Holy Father asked the Cardinals if they agreed to send a message in their name, to which they responded with applause.
Protests took over last weekend as many demonstrators were killed in clashes with government forces. The Pope’s greeting came after MPs issued a warrant for the arrest of fugitive ousted President Viktor Yanukovych. Ukraine’s interim President Olexander Turchynov has warned of the dangers of separatism following the ousting of President Viktor Yanukovych amid continuing opposition in Ukraine’s Russian-speaking regions to the new administration in Kiev.
Bishop Gudziak was speaking about the situation in Ukraine on Sunday, just hours before presiding the funeral of a 28-year-old man in Lviv. Bohdan Solchanyk, a doctoral student and lecturer at Ukrainian Catholic University in Lviv, was one of the nearly 100 protesters, killed by snipers in Kiev earlier this week. Bishop Gudziak also serves as the university president.
“There is profound sadness, bewilderment but also inspiration,” he said of the general loss of life in Ukraine this past week. “The country in these days is profoundly traumatised.”
—This story ran in full in the February 28 edition print of the SCO, available in parishes.