Archbishop says Ukraine Catholics must be willing to sacrifice their lives
Greek Catholics called to arms as Ukraine-Russia crisis verges on war
A poster depicting Russian leader Putin as Hitler, with the slogan 'Hands Off Ukraine' (picture: AFP Photo/Yury Kirnichny)
On March 1, 2014, Patriarch Sviatoslav Shevchuk, head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, made a live statement on public television.
“With regret, we can say that Ukraine, unfortunately, has been pulled into a military conflict. So far no one is shooting, so far people are not dying, but it is obvious that military intervention has already begun. And so, indeed, the entire world community is on the side of Ukraine, as Russia is the aggressor. The role of the church is consistent. During the last three months, the church, especially the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, was with its people. And it will continue to remain with its people. If, God forbid, we will have to stand together on the battlefield with our soldiers, with our army, the Ukrainian Church, especially the UGCC, is ready to provide pastoral support.
“Every citizen of Ukraine must be prepared to defend his or her independent and sovereign state. The church has always sought to defend peace. The church at all costs tried to prevent bloodshed. Unfortunately, there are already victims in Ukraine, and bloodshed was not prevented. We will continue to use every opportunity to relieve tension in society and avoid casualties.
“The activity of the AUCCRO over the last three months has shown that the church is fully consolidated. We will not be silent. The church has never covered any falsehood or violence by silence. The church always exposes lies. The church has always defended human life and human dignity. The AUCCRO is not only ready to continue this work, but we are absolutely united. At a time when our Fatherland is in danger, all kinds of interfaith disputes including property issues that may be the subject of discussion between the churches should be put aside.
"We now need to unite and consolidate in order to protect our people and our country. I appeal to all the faithful of the UGCC and to all the Ukrainian people. Our people and our country are currently in danger. We must stand up for our country, to be ready – if necessary – to sacrifice our lives in order to protect the sovereign, free, independent, and unified state. And here we are absolutely united. We now need to think about what unites us. Our state is a multinational, multiconfessional, but we all have to be together to defend our own independent and sovereign state,” the patriarch said in his appeal, which was disseminated by the Catholic publication CREDO.
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