Archbishop Franz Lackner at the Przemysl Synod: As Christians, we must ensure that solidarity with Ukraine does not decrease, but increases

Monday, 11 July 2022, 23:06
On Monday, July 11, His Eminence Franz Lackner, Archbishop of Salzburg, addressed the bishops of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church gathered at the Synod in Przemyśl (Poland).

In his speech to the UGCC bishops, the Head of the Austrian episcopate noted that a few months ago he could not have imagined that today he would be attending the Synod as Chairman of the Conference of Catholic Bishops of Austria, and especially that the focus of his visit would be the horrors of the war against Ukraine.

“I represent a country that has close historical bonds with the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church and at least with part of modern Ukraine. Not only do we share history, but also geographical and religious proximity, which requires close solidarity with your Motherland,” stated the Head of the Conference of Catholic Bishops of Austria.

Austrian reaction to Russia's invasion of Ukraine

Archbishop Lackner said that when Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine on the morning of February 24, it was hard to believe at first.

His Eminence told the bishops of the UGCC about the impressive solidarity he observed in Austria from the first days of the full-scale invasion, which “immediately enveloped all walks of life.” He also recalled how numerously people had gathered to pray the Akathist Hymn to the Blessed Virgin Mary in Salzburg Cathedral, mentioning that it was the first Byzantine prayer held there, and added: “The Ukrainian Greek-Catholic community in Salzburg and all other communities of your Church in Austria have long been our companions, our gateway, so to speak, to the life of the Eastern spiritual tradition; now we have rediscovered these communities in a new way.”

Far-reaching consequences of war, from which no one is immune

Noting that Ukraine has once again become known as the breadbasket of Europe and the whole world, the Chairman of the Austrian Bishops' Conference said that in recent months “we became painfully aware of the far-reaching consequences of the war that has been imposed on your country. In the end, no one is immune to the various consequences of this kind of insanity.”

Austria in solidarity with Ukraine

The Chairman of the Conference of Catholic Bishops of Austria said that during the war, Austria has collected and delivered substantial humanitarian aid to Ukraine, various types of donations were collected, parishes and many ordinary Austrian families opened their doors to the forcibly resettled women and children, and many Austrians became volunteers, helping and accompanying Ukrainians who came to Austria, to settle into their new homes.

The horror that Ukraine is experiencing defiles and injures the face of Christ

Archbishop Lackner commented that it is difficult to even imagine the suffering that the Ukrainian people are currently experiencing.  “Every day we see terrible video footage and photos and receive information that is difficult to process. We are saddened that in the 21st century we have to experience a horror that defiles and wounds the face of Christ,” the archbishop said and added: “… Our Lord Jesus Christ is the Prince of Peace; only with His help will a true, just peace be possible."

As a gesture of solidarity of the Austrian people with the Ukrainian people, and in hope for a just peace, the Chairman of the Austrian Bishops' Conference handed over to the Father and Head of the UGCC His Beatitude Sviatoslav an image of Jesus Christ which was shot at by the Nazis during the Second World War. It had been housed in the episcopal house in Salzburg,

The visit of two bishops and the prayer support of millions

Together with Salzburg’s Archbishop Franz Lackner, the Synod was visited by Bishop Wilhelm Krautwaschl, bishop of the Diocese of Graz. According to Archbishop Lackner, they are prayerfully accompanied by the entire bishopric and millions of the faithful of Austria.

“We are convinced that the grace of the prayers of millions of people in Austria will reach our brothers and sisters and all people of good will in Ukraine. We stand here as pilgrims from a distant yet close country, as ambassadors of solidarity and joint efforts for peace,” stated the Chairman of the Conference of Catholic Bishops of Austria.

The Head of the UGCC conveys his gratitude

His Beatitude Sviatoslav, on behalf of the Synod of Bishops of the UGCC and all the Ukrainian people, thanked the Head of the Austrian Bishops' Conference, Franz Lackner, and the Bishop of Graz, Wilhelm Krautwaschl, and the entire episcopate and people of Austria for their solidarity with Ukraine and especially for their desire to “touch the wounds of the war” in Ukraine, where Archbishop Lackner and Bishop Krautwaschl will go after today's meeting with the UGCC bishops in Przemyśl.

The UGCC Department of Information





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