An appeal for prayer has come from one of Ukraine’s most senior Catholic bishops as momentous political change sweeps the country.
Archbishop Mieczysław Mokrzycki, president of Ukraine’s Latin-rite Catholic Bishops’ Conference, highlighted the “great solidarity” of people worldwide – shown in prayer and practical aid.
The archbishop’s comments, in an interview with Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need, came as Ukraine undergoes dramatic change, with ousted President Viktor Yanukovych fleeing the country and Members of Parliament issuing a warrant for his arrest.
The Archbishop of Lviv said: “We are experiencing a great solidarity with the faithful, not only from the neighboring countries, but also from the whole world. So many are supporting us with their prayers. They are remembering us and offering humanitarian aid. These gestures of solidarity are very important and dear to us.”
Archbishop Mokrzycki’s appeal for prayer came as Ukraine’s health ministry claimed that 88 people – most of them protestors – had died in last week’s clashes. Others gave a total of more than 100 dead. Church sources said that 2,000 people had been wounded, with Kiev’s St Alexander Cathedral being used as a makeshift hospital.
The archbishop said the turmoil of the past weeks had changed Ukrainians’ political and social outlook.He said: “People have developed a deeper sense of responsibility for the country as citizens and a deeper conscience of civic duty.”
The archbishop said the turmoil had bound the people together, stating: “On Maidan Square, there was an atmosphere of solidarity, regardless of denomination, rite, and ethnicity. All were one. All were united.”
Still, Ukraine faces a long and difficult battle.
Archbishop Mokrzycki’s secretary, Father Andrzej Legowych, said: “Ukraine will need many months and even years to settle down and start a new life. The country is still divided and we will need many months – and longer – to heal the wounds.”
Aid to the Church in Need is an international Catholic charity under the guidance of the Holy See, providing assistance to the suffering and persecuted Church in more than 140 countries.www.churchinneed.org (USA); www.acnuk.org (UK); www.aidtochurch.org (AUS); www.acnireland.org (IRL); www.acn-aed-ca.org (CAN)