(ZENIT News / Vatican City, 09.06.2023).- On the morning of Wednesday, September 6th, before the general audience, Pope Francis received the bishops of the Synod of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church in the Paul VI Hall.
During the nearly two-hour meeting, following the greeting by His Beatitude Svjatoslav Ševčuk, who recalled the painful situation in his country, with the growing number of dead, wounded, and tortured, and thanked the Pope for the affection demonstrated in so many ways and on so many occasions, several participants took the floor. Each of them recounted the suffering experienced by the Ukrainian people in various places and in different ways.
Pope Francis listened attentively to the words addressed to him, expressing his feelings of closeness and participation in the tragedy faced by the Ukrainians, with a “dimension of martyrdom” that is not spoken of enough, subjected to cruelty and criminality. He expressed his sorrow for the sense of powerlessness experienced in the face of the war, “a work of the devil, seeking destruction,” with a special thought for the Ukrainian children he met during audiences: “they look at you, and they have forgotten how to smile,” and he added: “This is one of the fruits of war: taking away the smiles of children.”
Faced with the cruelty of war, the need to pray more for conversion and an end to the conflict emerged. Following a request received during the meeting, the Pope expressed the wish that in October, particularly in shrines, the praying of the rosary be dedicated to peace and peace in Ukraine.
Speaking about the encounter he had with some young Russians in recent days, the Pope then referred to the response he had given to journalists on the return flight from Mongolia.
Finally, he recalled the example of Jesus during the Passion, who was not a victim of insults, torture, and crucifixion but bore witness to the courage of speaking the truth, of being close to the people, so they would not lose heart. “It’s not easy,” he said, “this is holiness, but the people want us to be holy and teachers of this path that Jesus taught us.”
To conclude, before they joined in prayer to the Virgin, the Pope shared how he remembered the Ukrainians in his daily prayers before the icon of the Virgin given to him by the Major Archbishop before leaving Buenos Aires.