Archbishop Shevchuk: 'Time for concrete diplomatic action to stop Ukraine war'
By Lisa Zengarini
As Russia's invasion of Ukraine entered its 18th day on Monday, the Major Archbishop of Kyiv, Sviatoslav Shevchuk, once again called for swift and effective diplomatic action to end the bloodshed.
Ukrainians still resisting
In his daily video message to the faithful, the head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church remarked that, in spite of the relentless bombings and the suffering inflicted on civilians, the Ukrainian people are still resisting, showing that “the strength of the spirit can be more powerful than the power of the aggressive weapons waged by others.”
“The Ukrainian people are affirming their right to exist, their right to freedom, their right to be themselves,” he added.
Major Archbishop Shevchuk thanked the thousands of people who have taken to the streets to protest against the Russian invasion, noting that there can be “no neutral position” on this war of aggression.
The Major Archbishop also expressed gratitude to Pope Francis for his new heartfelt appeal calling for an end to "the massacre".
During the Angelus prayer on Sunday, the Pope called once again for an immediate ceasefire and for humanitarian corridors, referring in particular to the besieged city of Mariupol in eastern Ukraine, which he described as “a city of martyrs”.
Time for effective diplomatic action
Major Archbishop Shevchuk further thanked all state leaders and members of the international community for seeking a peaceful solution to the conflict, remarking that now is not the time for statements anymore. "We need to find diplomatic mechanisms to stop the war," he said
In conclusion, he encouraged the faithful to pray and fast during the Lenten Season so that "the evil spirit of war can be expelled from Ukraine.”
“May the Lord in His mercy listen to our prayers; may He send His angels of light to stop the darkness that hangs over Ukraine,” Archbishop Shevchuk concluded.
A new urgent appeal for peace in Ukraine was also made by Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople. Speaking on Sunday, in the Catheral of St George at the Fanar, in Istanbul, during the celebration the Feast of Orthodoxy, the head of the Greek Orthodox Church asked for an immediate ceasefire, recalling that “violence and war not only fail to resolve disputes, they cause pain and death and create more complex problems.”
“The invasion and the war must end immediately, and a new opportunity must be given to dialogue, the pre-eminent vehicle of reconciliation and peace," the Patriarch said.
Greek Catholic Exarch of Donetsk
As a fourth round of talks between Ukraine and Russia is underway, fierce fighting continues across Ukraine, including in the besieged capital Kyiv and ravaged Mariupol, where some 350,000 civilians are desperately trying to flee and are without water or heating, and running out of food.
In this dramatic context, the Greek Catholic Exarch of Donetsk, in eastern Ukraine, has reiterated the call to open green corridors for civilians and for urgent humanitarian aid.
"The lack of the most vital means, especially drinking water, food and medicine, threatens the lives of the civilian population catastrophically and has already led to deaths,” said Bishop Stefan Men'ok, C.SS.R. on Monday.
"Opening green corridors for civilians and the delivery of humanitarian aid can alleviate this situation." The Bishop also called on the faithful for a "spiritual resistence."
"Prayer is our strength," he said.