A state shelter for children in Lviv, Ukraine A state shelter for children in Lviv, Ukraine 

Lviv Mayor: Ukrainian families are helping those seeking refuge

As Archbishop Gallagher, the Vatican's Secretary for Relations with States, brings Pope Francis' closeness to people of Ukraine, the Mayor of Lviv explains to Vatican News how his citizens are supporting one another in the western city which has hosted countless refugees since Russia's invasion.

By Deborah Castellano Lubov & Stefano Leszczynski

The mayor of Ukraine's western city of Lviv, Andriy Sadovyi, says that despite being under attack, his city, which has hosted countless refugees since the outbreak of the war, is determined to protect itself and all Ukrainians who have fled there for refuge. 

He expressed this in an interview with Vatican News' Stefano Leszczynski, who is on the ground as Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, the Vatican's Secretary for Relations with States, visits the war-torn nation to bring the Pope's closeness.

Archbishop Gallagher is making a three-day visit to the nation, from which more than 6 million have fled since Russia invaded.

On Thursday, Archbishop Gallagher met with the Mayor of Lviv, along with Maksym Kozytsk, the Governor of Lviv Regional State Administration, in the Curia of Lviv Archdiocese.

Pope's defence of the Ukrainian people

During that occasion, Archbishop Gallagher reiterated the Holy Father's commitment and closeness to the people of Ukraine.

“I can assure you that [the Pope’s] pronouncements about atrocities, about the suffering that he has been aware of in the country," he said, "is most sincere."

"He’s trying to be as forceful as he can to defend the Ukrainian people, to point out the fact that they have their freedom, that the integrity of this country has been transgressed.”

Lviv: home to refugees

The city of Lviv has been seen as somewhat of a safe haven since the break out of the war, where hundreds of thousands, especially Ukrainian mothers and children, have arrived and inhabited since Russia's invasion of Ukraine. However, in recent weeks it has been under attack as well, with missile strikes on the city. A recent attack left seven dead and 14 injured.

In the interview, the mayor reflected said Archbishop Gallagher "has a good understanding of the situation."

Pointing out the great number of Catholics in Lviv, Mr. Sadovyi emphasized the significance of feeling the Pope's solidarity.

“[ What is very impressive in Lviv is that the people, in this situation of war, are trying to be and live as normal as possible.]”

Families supporting the displaced

Mr. Sadovyi praised the great courage and resilience of the citizens and people. 

"A lot of families," he said, "are hosting internally displaced persons and giving them love and warmth."

He noted that many of Lviv's citizens are also serving in the Ukrainian army.

Believing in Ukraine

“We are ready to protect our city and our country. I believe in our victory. I believe in Ukraine.”

Vatican Radio's journalist on the ground observed that Lviv, in this moment, looks like a safe city, and asked whether the mayor fears things could change.

"All cities in Ukraine have very similar situation," the mayor responded, noting, "We don't know where the Russian missiles will target next."

Reflecting on the recent missile strikes on Lviv, Mr. Sadovyi lamented, "it is our reality." 

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20 May 2022, 11:05