Ukrainians wait at the Slovak-Ukrainian border crossing in Velke Slemence, Slovakia Ukrainians wait at the Slovak-Ukrainian border crossing in Velke Slemence, Slovakia  (AFP or licensors)

Archbishop Grušas: Lithuania prepares to welcome Ukraine refugees

Lithuanian Archbishop Gintaras Grušas, President of the Council of European Bishop's Conferences, describes the Bishops response to the military activity in Ukraine, as well as the positive response from the people of Lithuania who prepare to welcome thousands of refugees.

By Francesca Merlo

Archbishop Gintaras Grušas, President of the Council of European Bishop's Conferences describes how “disheartened” he and his fellow bishops were when they heard of the beginning of the military actions in Ukraine. We are “joining in prayers for the people of Ukraine, for the Church in Urkaine, and we are calling for the cessation of military action”, he says.

Prayers for peace

Speaking to Vatican News’ Antonella Palermo, Archbishop Grušas of the Lithuanian Capital, Vilnius, stresses that the Bishops, and the people of Lithuania, are joining the Holy Father “in the call to prayer and fasting”, and are asking all Catholics, Christians, and people of good will to join, too, in this prayer for peace. The Holy Father has called for Wednesday 2 March to be a day of prayer and fasting for Ukraine who has been under military attack from Russia since Thursday.

Listen to our interview with Archbishop Grušas

Welcoming refugees

Archbishop Grušas went on to note that in Lithuaia, “we have already begun to receive refugees” and adds that this “lands nicely with the  theme of our meeting here in Florence”, Italy. Archbishop Grušas is in Florence, Italy, where he is currently attending a meeting of Bishops and Mayors of some of the cities most affected by the migratory crisis of the Mediterranean Sea. With that in mind, Archbishop Grušas continued noting that like in the Tuscan capital, “the Church and the mayors of various cities in Lithuania are working together to accommodate the influx of refugees”.

Possible numbers

He noted that although the greates number of refugees are likely to reach Poland, which sits at the border with Ukraine, many of the Ukrainin nationals already living in Lithuania have started accommodating friends and relatives who have begun to flee from Ukraine.

Just before leaving Lithuania for the meeting in Italy, the anticipated numbers of possible refugees arriving in Lithuania were low, aound 20, 25, 50, says Archbishop Grušas. “Now they’re talking about 100,00 people”. So we are trying to prepare for this as best we can, he added, noting that the people of Lithuania have already organised “various actions for support”, including a demonstration that saw the participation of around 10,000 people. “Like them”, concluded the Archbishop, we are “calling for an end to the war, and the reestablishment of peace”.

26 February 2022, 10:33