Glory to Jesus Christ!
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ!
Today is Thursday 18 August 2022 and Ukraine has been in an unequal, bloody battle with the Russian aggressor for 176 days. Again, during the last day and night, the Ukrainian land trembled under Russian bombs and missiles.
Heavy fighting is taking place along the entire front line from Kharkiv Oblast to Kherson Oblast. They are the most intense in the Donetsk region. Around Avdiivka, Bakhmut, and Kramatorsk, really fierce battles are taking place and the enemy is relentlessly attacking the positions of our troops.
But the biggest tragedy unfolded in Kharkiv last night. The enemy powerfully bombarded this city several times, in particular with rockets. Many people died. Residential buildings in different quarters of this city are still burning and there are dozens of injured.
What hurts my heart the most is that the Russians hit a dormitory, where people with hearing impairments lived, with a rocket. They could not even hear the sounds of the air raid sirens. And now their rescue is ongoing. Our Mykolayiv and our cities in the south of our homeland are under fire.
But Ukraine is standing. Ukraine is fighting. Ukraine is praying.
In the previous days, you and I reflected on human rights, their origin, their content, and their purpose. But it is absolutely obvious to all of us that it is not enough to talk only about human rights. Rights are always inextricably linked with duties. In human society, every right of an individual corresponds to the duty of all other people. Namely, the duty to recognize and respect this right.
Those who demand their own rights, but at the same time forget to respect and fulfill the corresponding duties towards other people, towards the rights of another person, and who despise them—these are people who in fact build with one hand and destroy with the other. Affirming human rights, we must all together stand up for their protection. We must feel our responsibilities in relation to the rights of other people.
But today I also want to draw your attention to the fact that not only individual people enjoy certain rights protected by civil law. These nations and states also have their own rights and responsibilities. Today, in order to be able to talk about the peaceful coexistence of mankind, it is necessary to establish international law. Because what is valid for an individual is also valid for nations.
The Church teaches that international law is based on the principle of equal respect for states, for the right of every person to self-determination. And on the principle of free cooperation for the higher, common good of humanity. That is, the rights of peoples are nothing but human rights, which are practiced at the highest international level. And that is why we say today that every nation, every people has a fundamental right to existence, its own language and culture through which it manifests itself and develops. It has the right to its spiritual sovereignty, to live according to its own customs, excluding, of course, the violation of basic human rights and, in particular, the oppression of minorities.
Every nation has the right to build its own future through proper education of the younger generation. International order requires a balance between the separate or partial and the common or universal. And we are all called to achieve this goal, this balance, this peaceful coexistence, which is based on the mutual respect of all nations. After all, the first duty of all of us is to live in peace, in respect and solidarity with other peoples.
Unfortunately, we see how today the war in Ukraine is a challenge for international law. The Russian aggressor does not respect anyone, neither their own citizens, nor the rights of Ukraine, nor her state, cultural, and spiritual sovereignty. It despises international law and international institutions. Therefore, what is happening in Ukraine today is the business of all humanity, because it affects the very foundations of international law.
Today I would especially like to address our grandmothers and grandfathers, the elderly. It is you, grandparents, who are the golden treasure of our people, the Church, and the state. Your life experience, which you gained through hard, hard work is an experience that really teaches you to understand the true value of human life. The real price of an honestly earned piece of bread is so necessary today for modern humanity, your children, and especially for your grandchildren.
Today, in particular, your spiritual experience, the spiritual experience of faith, your ability to pray, experience spiritually and see reality more deeply through the eyes of faith, is vital to the Ukrainian people. Therefore, I want to address this word to you today and assure you of our national, church-wide respect for each and every one of you. We want to surround you with our love, prayers, and support. During the war, it is our pensioners, the elderly, who are most vulnerable to this calamity that befell our nation. We see that it is in the war zone that the civilian population consists mostly of older people who have nowhere to evacuate because they are unable to do so due to their health.
Therefore, today especially to those who are directly in the combat zone, who live directly in bomb shelters, those who are in danger of death every day—for them today we pray especially. Everyone was moved by the footage of the old grandfather cradling his newborn granddaughter in his arms, and together with her he was forced to leave his home and evacuate.
May the Lord God strengthen you and bless you! And may you generously share your experience with young people, because for your children and grandchildren, you are truly the bearers of the roots of our people, our spiritual and cultural life.
O God, bless Ukraine. O God, grant Ukraine a just peace. O God, teach all nations to respect each other and to affirm the fundamental principle of international law, for the sake of peace and tranquility on Ukrainian land, for the sake of peace and tranquility in such a troubled world today. O God, grant Ukraine victory and peace.
May the blessing of the Lord be upon you through His grace and love of mankind, always, now and ever, and for ages of ages. Amen.
Glory to Jesus Christ!