Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk: Russian invasion of Ukraine is a ‘silent war’

Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk: Russian invasion of Ukraine is a ‘silent war’

“We do not just need to pray for reconciliation. We need to do effective acts of reconciliation. This is crucial,” Shevchuk said, adding that “reconciliation does not mean to be reconciled with the aggressor, reconciliation does not mean to be reconciled with lying or fake news.”

Ukrainian Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk, major archbishop of Kiev-Halych and head of the Ukrainian Catholic Church, speaks to reporters at the Vatican Jan. 26.

Rome, Italy, Jun 15, 2018 / 01:34 pm (CNA).- Speaking at the end of a closed-door meeting on religious freedom at the US Embassy to the Holy See, Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk, head of the Greek Catholic Ukrainian Church, stressed that “it is a matter of fact that the war in Ukraine has become a silent war.”

The meeting took place June 14, and was the first in a series of meetings dedicated to religious freedom hosted by the US Embassy to the Holy See.

In her initial remarks, Callista Gingrich, US Ambassador to the Holy See, strongly condemned Russian aggression on the Ukrainian territory,

“The facts,” she said, “are truly astonishing.  Today, Russia ranks among the worst violators of religious freedom and human rights.  There is no sign that its persecution of religious minorities and foreign missionaries is coming to an end.  And what is perhaps most troubling is that this repression is not limited to its own borders.”

Ambassador Gingrich noted that “it has been four years since Russia invaded eastern Ukraine, and occupied and attempted to annex Crimea,” and stressed that “these unjust actions, launched under the pretense of ‘defending Russian-speaking people’, have in reality been disastrous for the people living in these regions.”

The head of the biggest Eastern Catholic, or sui iuris, Church in the world, Major Archbishop Shevchuk said at the meeting: “my mission is to convey to the top leaders of the world today the voice of suffering people of Ukraine.”

Shevchuk mentioned current problems in Ukraine, among them the fact that there are thousands of children in direct exposure to explosive material, a constant risk of being targeted for airstrikes, and the pollution of water supplies stemming from underground nuclear explosions during the Soviet era.

“Very often,” he said “the future of our nation is discussed without us. I think that is a big mistake, and I think it is important to make us partners of such a process.”

Major Archbishop Shevchuk saw in the Holy See’s diplomatic presence in the world “a special possibility to share our stories, to speak out on behalf of our people.”

The head of Greek Catholic Ukrainian Church also spoke about the need for religious reconciliation in Ukraine.

“We do not just need to pray for reconciliation. We need to do effective acts of reconciliation. This is crucial,” Shevchuk said.

He added that “reconciliation does not mean to be reconciled with the aggressor, reconciliation does not mean to be reconciled with lying or fake news.”

Shevchuk also noted that “chaplains are in the frontline to help soldiers to be converted to love, not to hatred,” and stressed that “the process of justice and reconciliation should start. We try to foster that process, we preach forgiveness even for our enemy, and we try to share the experience of other countries. We are convinced that dialogue can heal the wounds.”

The archbishop emphasized the need for ecumenical dialogue in Ukraine, especially with Orthodox Christians, who are deeply divided in the country, especially after a disagreement over the relationship between Ukrainian and Russian Orthodox Churches. That disagreement has become a contentious debate involving the Orthodox Patriarch of Moscow, Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko, and the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I.

“Ecumenical dialogue,” Shevchuk underscored “is crucial for Ukraine, because Ukraine is a multiethnic and multi-religious country and there is also a painful situation of an internal division between the Orthodox.”

Shevchuk said that “of course there is some sort of competition between Churches, especially those who would call themselves as Orthodox; of course, there is a sound risk of the instrumentalization of the Church for geopolitical proposals; of course there are some facts that even Orthodox priests took up arms against Ukraine’s army; but nevertheless I think that the consciousness that religious peace is a common good of all of us is prevailing right now.”

The head of Greek Catholics of Ukraine discussed the roots of the current disagreement: a request from some Ukrainian Orthodox Churches  for independence from affiliation with the Russian Orthodox Churches.

“Of course,” he said, “Ukrainian Orthodox Churches which are not in communion with the Moscow patriarchate are trying to come out of isolation within worldwide Orthodoxy; of course, they would look toward the mother Church, the Church of Constantinople.”

“There are some inner tensions in each Church as well, but thanks to be to God until now we have religious peace among us,” he added.

The archbishop expressed regret that “there is no bilateral dialogue” among the Churches, as “there is no alternative to dialogue. With no dialogue, there is just confrontation.”

He then praised a Ukrainian NGO, the “Council of the Churches and Religious Organizations” that “can help us to meet and to cooperate together for the common good of the Ukrainian society”.

He added that, despite Ukraine’s struggles, he has hope.

“We are Christians, we trust in God’s providence. Only God is the master of peace, and there is no peace without justice,” he concluded.

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2 comments on “Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk: Russian invasion of Ukraine is a ‘silent war’


    14 June 2018

    On June 13, a conference on religious freedom in Ukraine was held at the American Embassy at the Apostolic Capital. The main speaker was Patriarch Sviatoslav (Shevchuk) of the UGCC. The meeting was held at the initiative of Callista Gingrich, US Ambassador to the Vatican, according to the Department of Information of the UGCC.

    Ambassador Callista Gingrich turned to the conference participants. She assured of the “absolute” support of the United States to Ukraine in combating Russian aggression: “The power of history and choice of people Ukraine is part of Europe and the West. We continue to support the territorial integrity of Ukraine and its efforts in building a stable, democratic, developed and free country.”

    Speaking to diplomats and representatives of the Vatican Curia on the religious situation in Ukraine, His Beatitude Sviatoslav emphasized that “seventy years of Soviet rule left many wounds in the religious life of our people. At a time when the only legal Churches were the Russian Orthodox Church and Roman Catholicism was to some extent tolerated by the authorities, the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church was deprived of any right to existence. We were the largest church community persecuted in the last century.” However, in the opinion of His Beatitude Sviatoslav, “these very conditions of existence helped the UGCC to keep its authenticity.”

    “The collapse of the Soviet Union caused a wave of religious revival in Ukraine, very often it was a painful process of building inter-confessional relations, but today we are consoled with the religious world as one of the greatest achievements of building a free and democratic Ukraine,” said His Beatitude Sviatoslav.

    Speaking to the diplomats about the role of the Churches in modern state-building processes, the Head of the UGCC emphasized the principle of “separation, but not isolation of the Church from the State.” Referring to statistics of Ukrainian citizens’ confidence in the Church, His Beatitude Sviatoslav pointed to the special role of the Churches in building a civil society in Ukraine. “During the Revolution of Dignity on the Maidan, there were Ukrainians, Russians, Poles … The war in Ukraine is not a conflict between Ukrainians and Russians. This is a conflict between two directions of development: back to the Soviet Union, which is was of loss of our religious freedom and national identity, or by moving forward to a developed and genuine democracy of the European model – the true freedom of all religions and a guarantee of the free development of all, without exception, peoples living in Ukraine And we, as the Church, advocate the project of building our state on the principles of protection and respect for human dignity, common good and solidarity.”

    “During the four years of Russian aggression, the Ukrainian Churches realized that the preservation of religious peace in our country is a guarantee of national security. That is why religious freedom is a great value for us,” said His Beatitude Sviatoslav. At the conclusion of his report, he thanked the representatives of the international community for their support and assistance to Ukraine. “We believe that the war will end. An important mission of our Church is to prepare people’s hearts for forgiveness and reconciliation,” stressed the Head of the UGCC.

    The conference ended with a speech by Tetyana Izhevska, Ambassador of Ukraine to the Vatican. In his address, the Ukrainian Ambassador emphasized that the example of Ukraine is unique in terms of respect for inter-religious and interethnic tolerance, and the Ukrainian State is making every effort secure the citizens’ right to freedom of conscience and religion. She also thanked foreign partners for the clear and constant support of Ukraine.

    In addition to the ambassadors of the European Union member states, the ambassador of Canada, Australia, as well as representatives of some Vatican dicasteries were participating in the conference: Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, secretary of the Pontifical Council of integral human development participated in the conference; Archbishop Cyril Vasil, secretary of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches

  2. Sviatoslav, a supporter of Bergoglio. “Council of the Churches and Religious Organizations” supporter. Persecutor of traditionalist SSPX organizations such as Father Kovpak and his Society of Saint Josephat. Sviatoslav has said he wants to be Patriarch not of Catholics, but of all Ukrainians. As far as the whole hype of Ukraine being oppressed, it gives Sviatoslav more power and influence, to hob nob with globalist organizations,and helps him to get closer to creating a new church under him. When in reality, he is embracing globalist agendas and helps and us helped by proabortion and antifamily and proEU NGOs and organizations

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