Glory to Jesus Christ!
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ!
Today is 9 March 2022 and we are beginning the second week, the fourteenth day of this bloody, inhumane, cruel war.
In this war we see that the main victims are the peaceful population. Those who suffer the most are the residents of cities and villages, defenceless people, women, children, the elderly…
The Ukrainian Council of Churches and Religious Organizations, which unites 95% of all religious communities in Ukraine—with representatives of Orthodox, Catholic Churches, Protestant communities, Jewish, Muslim religious organizations—raises its voice in defence of the innocent, civilian population of Ukraine.
Yesterday we accepted a particular appeal to the global community, where we explain and recount how the invader is violating international humanitarian rules of war.
And indeed, the civilian population is becoming the primary victim of this aggression.
Our spiritual heritage is being destroyed by bombing. Churches, our spiritual values, cultural treasures. Priest are being killed, volunteers, all those who try in some way to ease the suffering of this Ukrainian nation flowing with blood.
Today, as never before, all the churches of Ukraine are united in the effort to defend and protect their people.
I am particularly calling upon the sons and daughters of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church to treat representatives of other churches and religious organizations with an open heart.
In the circumstances of such a disaster, the unity of the Ukrainian Church is being forged. Unity in service to its suffering people.
We must do everything today so that the world might hear the voice of the churches. So that the world hears the cry of Ukraine! So that the world sees the rivers of blood and the sea of tears that today are poured out on the lands of Ukraine!
Today all of our communities, all our parishes of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church are being transformed into centres of social service.
Where there is war, where bombs are falling, in Kyiv, Kharkiv, Chernihiv, Sumy, in Mykolaiv, we are striving to do everything—on the one hand to rescue the civilian population, and on the other hand to deliver humanitarian goods, to provide our people with food and medicine, to get them out of the combat zone.
In other parts of Ukraine innumerable centres are being opened where we are receiving internally displaced people, and providing them with the necessary assistance.
Precisely in these days, together with His Eminence Cardinal Krajewski, we are visiting such relief centres for the civilian population, so that it might be possible to feel that closeness of the Holy Father to the suffering of the Ukrainian people.
Today we are commemorating the anniversary of the birth of our great prophet of the Ukrainian people, Taras Hryhorovych Shevchenko.
His word has always helped us to regain our strength, and thus to realize God’s plan for our people.
And so today his words about fate somehow come to my heart…
Today the words of Shevchenko about the fate of Ukraine resound in a particular way. He tells us today: “You did not play me false, 0 Fate,/ You were a brother, closest friend/
To this poor wretch…” And further on he says: “We’ve walked the straight path, you and I,/ We have not cheated, compromised/ Or lived the very slightest lie./ So let’s march on, dear fate of mine!/ My humble, truthful, faithful friend!/ Keep marching on: there glory lies;/ March forward – that’s my testament.”
May these words about the march towards glory be today a light of hope for our Ukraine!
May the blessing of the Lord be upon you through His grace and love for humankind, always, now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.
Glory to Jesus Christ!
[Translation of Тарас Шевченко, Доля (Fate), from Taras Shevchenko. Selected poetry, trans John Weir (Kyiv: Dnipro Publishers, 1977).]