Firefighters work to put out a fire in a residential apartment building after it was hit by shelling in Kyiv Firefighters work to put out a fire in a residential apartment building after it was hit by shelling in Kyiv 

Archbishop Shevchuk: 'Time for concrete diplomatic action to stop Ukraine war'

As a new round of talks between Ukrainian and Russian negotiators gets underway amid ongoing fighting, the Major Archbishop of Kyiv calls for effective diplomatic action to stop the bloodshed, as Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople joins in appealing for an immediate ceasefire.

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.

International solidarity

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.

“I would like to thank all those who feel close to the suffering people of Ukraine.”

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

“May the Lord God give wisdom to those who seek a solution. Wisdom to those who try through diplomatic means to find opportunities for dialogue and put an end to the aggression. I urge you all: "Do not be silent, do not stand aside, do not be accomplices of this crime!'”

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.

Patriarch Bartholomew

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. 

“The Charter of the United Nations, the 'Gospel of Nations', explicitly prohibits the use of force in international relations and commits all members of the Organization to resolve their disputes by peaceful means.”

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.

An aerial view of bombarded residential area of the city of Mariupol
An aerial view of bombarded residential area of the city of Mariupol

"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.

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15 March 2022, 13:02