Leader of Ukrainian Greek Catholics: We Have Invited the Pope to Ukraine

Major Archbishop Shevchuk Says Pope ‘Is a Man of Few Words, But of Deep, Profound Action’

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Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk has called on the international community to not be indifferent to the war in Ukraine. 

The head of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church made his appeal during a press conference today, stressing that if action is not taken now, this war soon will affect all people. The press conference was entitled “The pastoral challenges of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church in the context of War» and was held at Vatican Radio this morning.

“I am convinced that at an international level we can stop the situation,” he stressed.

On Friday, Pope Francis received the Ukrainian bishops during their ad limina visits to Rome. During the days leading up to the visit, the Ukrainian bishops celebrated Mass at Rome’s papal basilicas, including one with Ukrainian faithful at the Basilica of Saint Mary Major, and visited dicasteries of the Roman Curia and offices within the Vatican Secretariat of State.

Reflecting on the encounter with the Holy Father, Archbishop Shevchuk said, “The bishops felt understood, welcomed, and encouraged.”

Responding to how Pope Francis would react to Major Archbishop Shevchuck’s appeal for help, he reiterated that they have known each other since Buenos Aires, and said, “He is a man of few words, but of deep and profound action.”

Without speaking for what the diplomacy of the Vatican would do, he did say, “I believe there will be action. We’ll see.”

Admitting the Holy See has some “limits of possibility” in terms of what they can do, he explained that although the Holy See does not have an army, «it will do everything in its power to defend the power of Ukraine.»

When asked about the Pope’s visit with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Saturday, he wouldn’t speculate on their conversation, but did note how their discussions had finding a solution in Ukraine as a focal point.

In fact, after the encounter, Merkel told journalists she felt a “lot of encouragement” from the Holy Father “to decidedly and determinedly” find a peaceful solution in Ukraine.

Asked about those who defend Putin as protecting Christians’ rights, the major archbishop noted this was another example of Russian propaganda.

The head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church also noted that the Pope «has been following the events of Ukraine very closely.»

“However,” he continued, “what is most important are the witnesses, the people, the bishops explaining what is really happening.” The Holy Father listened intently during his audience with the bishops on Friday, the archbishop stated, and between the testimonies and the statistics, the fact that this is not a civil war, but another country imposing upon its neighbor, was apparent.

During today’s press conference Archbishop Shevchuk also said they have invited the Holy Father to visit Ukraine.

During the questions which followed, His Beatitude vehemently denied that the people of Ukraine are against the people of Russia.

In addition to speaking on those killed or physically wounded, he said, many are “psychologically wounded,” or “wounded in spirit.”

“They see the images, they read the news,” and this makes them suffer in such a way that they are depressed, some have committed suicide, and don’t know what to make of their and their loved ones’ futures.

In spite of the reasons to be demoralized, Archbishop Shevchuk stressed that there are many volunteer initiatives taking place, but lamented that they are being halted by the Russian occupation.


On ZENIT’s Web page:

Interview with His Beatitude Shevchuk last Thursday: http://www.zenit.org/en/articles/archbishop-sviatoslav-shevchuk-ukrainian-christians-still-clinging-to-hope

Pope’s Address to Ukrainian Bishops during Ad Limina Visit:  http://www.zenit.org/en/articles/pope-francis-address-to-ukrainian-bishops-on-their-ad-limina-visit

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Deborah Castellano Lubov

Deborah Castellano Lubov is Senior Vatican & Rome Correspondent for ZENIT; author of 'The Other Francis' ('L'Altro Francesco') featuring interviews with those closest to the Pope and preface by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Parolin (currently published in 5 languages); Deborah is also NBC & MSNBC Vatican Analyst. She often covers the Pope's travels abroad, often from the Papal Flight (including for historic trips such as to Abu Dhabi and Japan & Thailand), and has also asked him questions on the return-flight press conference on behalf of the English-speaking press present. Lubov has done much TV & radio commentary, including for NBC, Sky, EWTN, BBC, Vatican Radio, AP, Reuters and more. She also has contributed to various books on the Pope and has written for various Catholic publications. For 'The Other Francis': http://www.gracewing.co.uk/page219.html or https://www.amazon.com/Other-Francis-Everything-They-about/dp/0852449348/

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