Cardinal Husar Cites Role of Churches in Ukrainian Crisis

Sees «Clashing World Visions» Behind Problems

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ROME, DEC. 6, 2004 ( Cardinal Lubomyr Husar emphasized the critical role played by Churches «in maintaining peaceful demonstrations in Ukraine’s cities,» amid the country’s crisis.

Moreover, the cooperation of the Churches was manifested in the signing of common documents, added the archbishop major of Lviv of the Ukrainians. A case in point was the open letter sent to President Leonid Kuchma to assume his duties.

After a second round of elections Nov. 21, Ukraine has witnessed large post-electoral protests. Official data proclaimed the pro-Russian Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych the victor, but this was contested by those favoring his opponent, Viktor Yushchenko, who claimed election fraud.

The Ukrainian prelate — who is in Rome for a meeting with John Paul II, as well as Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Angelo Sodano — spoke about the Ukrainian situation to the press from the Church of St. Sofia.

Cardinal Husar emphasized that his country’s crisis «is the product of two clashing world visions as well as the selfish protection of personal interest on behalf of those who are currently in government.»

«Nevertheless, at the root of the crisis remains an immoral regime which has deprived Ukrainian people of their legitimate rights and dignity,» the cardinal said as quoted on Monday by the Greek-Catholic Church.

Yet, the crisis is not «without its positive aspects,» he said. «In fact, for the first time since the fall of Communism people are affirming their civil rights.»

Various Christian churches and denominations «have been praying together in a way never seen before, notwithstanding religious, cultural, regional and linguistic differences,» he observed.

Cardinal Husar said that the «role of the Church has proved to be critical. The churches have been collaborating in signing common statements and have been the principal instrument involved in maintaining peaceful demonstrations in Ukraine’s cities.»

Last Friday, after studying the accusations made by the opposition, Ukraine’s Supreme Court annulled the second round of presidential elections because «falsifications were committed that make it impossible to determine the result.»

There will be a rerun of the elections to determine the country’s choice between Yanukovych and Yushchenko. The Central Electoral Commission has called for a Dec. 26 runoff election.

Protesters have stayed in the center of Kiev and other cities despite the snow and below-freezing temperatures. They succeeded in blocking government buildings but did not engage in violence, noted the Vatican’s semiofficial newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano.

Most of Ukraine’s 47 million inhabitants are Orthodox. About 13% of the people are Catholic, mostly of the Eastern rite.

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