The world’s Ukrainian Greek-Catholic bishops, meeting in Lviv for their annual Holy Synod, have appealed to the international community to help restore peace in the country.
In a statement, the bishops said “Ukraine is flowing with blood!” and pointed to “direct military intervention” in the country by Russia. The bishops also decried the “unprecedented level of hatred and distortion” taking place in the media, and called on the international community to “take the necessary decisions [to] restore peace and security in Europe.”
Russia intervened in Ukraine in February following the overthrow of pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych. Russian soldiers gradually took control of Ukrainian-ruled Crimea and annexed the territory following a disputed status referendum. A few months later, Russian-backed separatists fought a war against Ukrainian forces in the Donbass region of Ukraine.
Here below is the full text of the bishops’ message:
We, the bishops of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church from Ukraine and from countries of Ukrainian settlements in North and South America, Australia, and Europe, gathered at the annual Holy Synod in Lviv, conscious of the responsibility entrusted to us for our flock, raise our voice on behalf of the people of Ukraine and call out to the people of the world: “Ukraine is flowing with blood!” This peaceful sovereign nation has been subjected to a direct military intervention by a northern neighbor. Hundreds of units of heavy weaponry and technology, thousands of armed mercenaries and soldiers of Russia’s standing army are crossing the borders of Ukraine, sowing death and destruction, in disregard for the terms of the ceasefire and recent diplomatic efforts. At the same time, propaganda continues at an unprecedented level of hatred and distortion of the real state of affairs, which is no less damaging than weapons of mass destruction.
The entire world has been able to witness how, over the last months, the aggressor commits crimes against humanity on the territory of Ukraine. The whole world was shocked with the criminal act of the downing of the Malaysian plane, in which 298 people from 10 different countries died. Thousands of people, especially women and children, have been recklessly killed; and it has not been possible to even bury them with dignity. Many of the wounded are forced to simply wait for death due to the inaccessibility of medical assistance. Thousands of people are being kidnapped and subjected to torture and public humiliation against their human dignity.. Hundreds of thousands of refugees are being forced to flee their homes due to threats against their lives and the danger of death. If these crimes are not stopped immediately, with the onset of the winter cold, the death toll will increase tenfold. Those, who kill people in Ukraine today, will not hesitate tomorrow to turn their weaponry against anyone, in their own country and beyond its borders, or attack any other nation in the world.
In the face of such grave crimes we call out to the consciences of believers of all religions and faiths, we appeal to all people of good will, to heads of state, and members of the international community: “Stop the bloodshed in Ukraine!” Today, silence or inaction, reluctance to recognize the gravity of the situation, which has arisen in our country, can not only turn everyone into a mute or indifferent witness, but also into an accomplice of the sin of murder, which cries to heaven for justice as the Scripture says: “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to me from the ground” (Genesis 4:10). How can we not recall the words of Saint John Paul II, who in the distant year of 1979, in the vicinity of the former concentration camp Auschwitz-Birkenau, said: “War is caused not only by those who wage it directly but also by those who do not do everything in their power to avoid it.” We especially call for responsible action from those whom the Lord has given authority, to take the necessary decisions at the political level in order to restore peace and security in Europe. And once again we call all believers and people of good will to urgent prayers for the end of aggression and the restoration of a lasting and comprehensive peace in Ukraine.
Convinced that God is with us in our sufferings and troubles, that He will hear our common pleas and prayers, and with the coordinated efforts of the international community, we will be able to stop the bloodshed, to defend human dignity, and restore life-giving peace.
His Beatitude Sviatoslav
Major Archbishop of Kyiv and Halych
His Grace Ihor (Vozniak)
Metropolitan of Lviv
His Grace Volodymyr (Viytyshyn)
Metropolitan of Ivano-Frankivsk
His Grace Vasyl (Semeniuk)
Metropolitan of Ternopil
His Grace Ivan (Martyniuk)
His Grace Lawrence (Huculak)
Metropolitan of Winnipeg
His Grace Stephen (Soroka)
Metropolitan of Philadelphia
His Grace Volodymyr (Kovbych)
Metropolitan of Curitiba and Brasil
His Excellency Borys (Gudziak)
Bishop of Eparchy of St. Volodymyr in Paris for Ukrainians of the Byzantine rite
in France and Benelux
And all the Bishops of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church