The strength of Ukrainian people is a miracle that is surprising the whole world, - His Beatitude Sviatoslav during the conference on service of the UGCC in conditions of the war

Thursday, 31 March 2022, 21:43
On March 29, the Pontifical Oriental Institute hosted a conference on the service of the UGCC during the war. His Beatitude Sviatoslav, the Head and Father of the UGCC participated in the conference from Kyiv via a video link.

At the beginning of the conference, Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, Prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches, addressed the participants. Recalling the persecution of the UGCC in the last century, Cardinal Sandri addressed His Beatitude: “You are the youngest of the Heads and Fathers of the Eastern Catholic Churches and still hold this special primacy, however, during these years you have led your Church tormented by numerous attempts to eliminate it and live underground. The years of looking to the future were a tragic return to the past.”

In his speech, His Beatitude Sviatoslav spoke about the tragic consequences of the Russian aggression that Ukrainian people are experiencing these days, and about the service of the UGCC during the war, which became the total destruction of Ukraine.

“The strength of the Ukrainian people is being revealed as a miracle that is surprising the world”, His Beatitude Sviatoslav emphasized.

“One million people have remained in Kyiv, which is one third of the total population; Kharkiv, only a few tens of kilometers away from Russia, has become a ghost, but it is still well defended; Mariupol, the economic locomotive of our state, became a mass grave; Chernihiv, a historical city of the times of Kyivan Rus, razed to the ground; Slavutych is surrounded on all sides by the Russian army, where our priest and his wife welcomed their child into the world under inhumane conditions of the war”.

His Beatitude Sviatoslav also spoke about the deportations of Ukrainians, who, according to Caritas, now number 40,000. “In Russian-controlled territories, our compatriots have their passports confiscated, issued temporary documents, and sent to Sakhalin Island in Russia's Far East, as far as Japan's coast, without the right to leave for the next two years. This reminds us of the deportations of (Josef) Stalin”.

Recalling the first day of the Russian invasion, the Head of the UGCC admits that he never would have imagined being the Head of the church in a time of war. "Never had I imagined that the basements of our cathedral in Kyiv would become bomb shelters for many people who are forced to hide from Russian bombs."

“Our primary responsibility as Church is to be with our people, so we have strategically divided our mission into the areas of greatest bombardment where we are trying to help people survive in these conditions and in the areas where people are fleeing to. We are talking about Western Ukraine, and here our structures are becoming places for the refugees”.  

His Beatitude Sviatoslav called the war in Ukraine “inhuman and extremely brutal.” “Russian soldiers are enriching themselves through human grief.” As an example he cites the city of Mariupol, where the occupiers are demanding $ 1,200 for the opportunity to leave the city. “Russian bombs are constantly being planted in this city. In one month of the war, 1,300 missiles were shot at Ukraine (30 were dropped on Syria in 11 years of the war), and 200,000 Russian soldiers entered Ukraine.”

In his speech, Andriy Yurash, the Ambassador of Ukraine to the Holy See pointed out an important role of the UGCC in life of Ukrainian society, especially in overcoming the humanitarian crisis, helping specific people, service of military chaplains and the moral voice of support on behalf of the Church. Specifically, the ambassador pointed out an important spiritual significance of the daily video- messages of His Beatitude Sviatoslav since the beginning of the war.

Among the speakers was also Cardinal Michael Czerny, deputy head of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development who has been dispatched to Ukrainian borders of Hungary and Slovakia by Pope Francis since the invasion began. Fr. Marco Pagniello, president of Caritas Italy and Tetiana Stawnycha, president of Caritas Ukraine spoke about the service of Caritas in their countries.

The event took place on the basis of the Pontifical Oriental Institute in cooperation with the Secretariat of the Head of the UGCC in Rome. The moderator of the meeting was Fr. David Nazar, SJ, rector of the Institute.

The Secretariat of the Head of the UGCC in Rome


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