Ukrainian Catholic bishops in Canada urge prayers for Ukraine – Vatican News

Ukrainian Greek Catholik Bishops in Canada express closeness to people in Ukraine and call for solidarity as tensions grow with Russia

By Lisa Zengarini

As Ukraine endures the threat of Russian invasion, the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Bishops in Canada join with Pope Francis and the European bishops in urging for a peaceful solution to the crisis, while expressing the closeness of the Ukrainian Catholic diaspora to their “brothers and sisters” in the homeland.

Tensions still high

Tensions over Ukraine still run high after the US Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Geneva on January 21.  Though Lavrov insisted that Russia was not planning to attack Ukraine and Blinken said that the meeting provided a “clearer path of understanding each others’ concerns”, there has not been any major breakthrough in the talks

New escalation 

Tensions between the two Former Soviet Union countries began after the annexation of Crimea by Moscow in 2014 and Russian involvement in the  armed conflict in the separatist Donbass region, but escalated again recently following Russia amassing some troops on the borders with Ukraine.

Both the US and its European allies  have warned that any Russian invasion would be met with a severe response.  They have rejected demands by the Kremlin  that NATO commit to never admitting Ukraine as a member and withdraw its troops and forces back to NATO’s 1997 borders, before several countries in Eastern Europe were admitted.

Concern in the Ukrainian community in Canada 

The some 1.3-million-strong Ukrainian Catholic community in Canada is following the latest developments with growing concern. In a statement released on January 23, the Greek-Catholic Bishops of Canada assured all Ukrainians in the homeland of their prayers and support: “You should know that we remain united with you even more now during these threatening times”, the statement reads.

Addressing brothers and sisters in Russia

The Bishops then  addressed  the “brothers and sisters in Russia” asking them “to reconsider the motives of their leaders in re-igniting the hardship that the citizens of Ukraine have undergone in the last seven years”. “Surely a neighbourly solution of reconciling divergent political visions will prove more successful in building solidarity and mutual beneficial collaboration”, they added, also appealing  to the “shared Christian faith which flows from the ancient Baptism of St. Volodymyr“ (the Kievan Prince who converted to Christianity and Christianized the ‘Rus of Kiev in the 10th Century, ed.).

Peaceful solutions to the conflict

The Canadian Greek-Catholic Bishops furthermore appealed to all civil authorities that have any influence over the situation and above all, Russia, to consider peaceful solutions to the conflict: “This would not necessarily mean a compromise, but would prove to be a just and fair and even magnanimous solution”, they said. “History teaches us that forced compromises, unnecessary subjugation and unjust resolutions often only fester and eventually erupt in ways unforeseen which are often more devastating than an earlier bilateral resolution would have been”.

Prayer and support to Ukraine

Finally, they called on “all people of goodwill” in Canada to see this “not merely as another distant conflict on the other side of the world”: “This is a conflict that has already brought tragedy and hardship upon millions of individuals and families”, they said.

The Canadian Greek Catholic Bishops therefore urged the faithful in Canada to concentrate their efforts in three directions. Firstly, they should keep informed and inform others on what is going on in Ukraine: “The world cannot look away; you should not look away. Seek and share the truth, which gives authentic freedom and wisdom”, they wrote.

Secondly, they asked for financial support to the humanitarian  relief work for the people affected by the crisis ,who lack of clean water, fuel, food, clothes and medicines. Finally, they called for prayer for peace and justice in Ukraine. “May God protect Ukraine and its people from further harm”, the statement concludes.

Pope calling for a Day of prayer 

The Bishops’ statement was issued on Sunday as Pope Francis called for special a day of prayer for peace in Ukraine. At the conclusion of Angelus prayer, the Holy Father reiterated his concerns over the tensions in the region which threaten peace and security in the entire European continent. “I make a heartfelt appeal to all people of good will to raise prayers to Almighty God that all political actions and initiatives may be at the service of human brotherhood rather than partisan interests”, Pope Francis said.