Catholic Church in Ukraine is making war-time preparations


Eastern Europe


Archbishop Shevchuk (centre) releases doves together with Pope Francis (left) in Rome, 2018. Photo AFP, Alberto Pizzoli

The Catholic Church in Western Ukraine is creating its own plan of counteraction in a full-scale invasion by Russian troops. That said the Supreme Archbishop of these churches, Sviatoslav Shevchuk, during a press conference.

The Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church (UGCC) is related to the Roman Catholic Church and accepts the authority of the Pope. The UGCC is dominant in the West of Ukraine.

Russia continues to accumulate military units in the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine and near its borders. In NATO countries in the West, there is fear of Russian aggression towards Ukraine. In the East, the Kremlin says that the troops are for defence, to guard the Russian motherland against the aggression from the West. Russia is very much against NATO membership of Ukraine, which was promised in 2008.

Whole world affected

According to Archbishop Shevchuk, this crisis does not only affect Ukraine but the whole world. “We are facing a full-scale escalation between Russia and the collective West”, he says according to Religion in Ukraine. “In this context, Ukraine is only part of a panorama of various threats and tensions. Consequently, the Ukrainian crisis is a crisis not only for Ukrainians, it affects the whole world, especially Europe, but also the United States and NATO member states.”

Civilians have great trust in the church in his country, he says. “Therefore, we feel responsible to the entire Ukrainian society and try to make our own plan of what we should do, especially when there is a possibility of a full-scale military invasion of Russian troops at any time,” said the head of the UGCC.

Archbishop Shevchuk did not say what the plan contained. Last week, the principal of the United Baptist Theological Seminary (UBTS) in the Western city of Lviv told the press that Christians in that region were already preparing beds for refugees.

Church brings hope

Last week, the Archbishop said that the church brought “hope” in the dangerous situation, according to Catholic News Agency. “It is true that Ukraine has been attacked by Russia already eight years long. But the escalation we have right now is not a simple continuation of the war in Donbas or the continuation of, or consequence, of the annexation of Crimea. Right now, there is something very different.”

At a digital meeting of the Catholic organisation “Church in Need,” Mr Shevchuk said that his country is “on the verge of a military takeover”, according to the German Die Tagespost. “Russia’s goal is to destroy Ukrainian democracy and the dream of Ukrainians to become part of the European Union.” In his opinion, the churches have a great responsibility these days.



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