Ukrainian refugees at the train station in Przemysl Ukrainian refugees at the train station in Przemysl  (ANSA)

Ukraine: Cardinal Czerny to meet refugees fleeing to Hungary

The Interim Prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, Cardinal Michael Czerny, travels on 8 March to Budapest, Hungary, and other cities on behalf of the Pope, where he will visit Ukrainian refugee centres and meet those assisting people fleeing the country.

By Lydia O'Kane

During the Angelus in St Peter’s Square on Sunday, Pope Francis appealed once again for Ukraine, saying that “the Holy See is ready to do everything,” to put itself at the service of achieving peace in the country.

The Pope also announced that he was sending two Cardinals as expressions of the Church’s solidarity with the suffering Ukrainian people: Cardinal Konrad Krajewski, the Papal Almoner, and Cardinal Michael Czerny, the Prefect ad interim of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development.

Speaking to the faithful following the recitation of the Marian Prayer, Pope Francis said the Cardinals will bring aid to the needy and serve as “the presence not only of the Pope but of all the Christian people who express solidarity with the people of Ukraine and say: ‘War is madness! Stop, please!'"

The mission of two cardinals

As of Monday, Cardinal Krajewski was at the border of Dorohusk, near Lublin, the arrival point for over a million refugees who have entered Poland.

While there, he distributed the Pope's white rosaries to volunteers and refugees. Afterwards, the Cardinal will head for the Przemysl railway station, where trains from Kyiv and Lviv arrive with more people fleeing the country.

Meanwhile, Cardinal Czerny will arrive in Hungary on Tuesday (8 March) and visit a number of reception centres for migrants coming from Ukraine.

With this mission, the Cardinal will continue to draw the sad similarity between the suffering of Ukrainians and the prolonged conflicts that do not attract the world's attention.

Before his departure for Hungary, Cardinal Czerny spoke to Vatican News’ Salvatore Cernuzio about his mission which will include raising concern about reports of increasing activities of human trafficking and smuggling of migrants at borders and in neighbouring countries.

Listen to the interview with Cardinal Czerny

A visit of prayer, closeness

“This brief trip is an expression in concrete form of the prayer, of the appeal of the prophesy, of the lament, you could say, of the Holy Father and of the entire Christian community and all believers, all people of goodwill who are weeping and who are lamenting what is happening in Ukraine. So, to go to see, to listen is to express this concern in a tangible way. This is what our little mission is happy to do,” he said.

Focus on those who are fleeing

The Cardinal explained that the first focus is on the Ukrainian people who are being forced to flee and who are crossing the border leaving everything behind.

He also raised concern about Africans and Asians who are in Ukraine to study or work.

“They too are forced to flee and it’s very important that they receive the same welcome, protection and assistance as everyone else, and so that will be an important point of attention.”

Scourge of human trafficking

 Speaking about reports of human trafficking, Cardinal Czerny said, "We’re very worried about what is inevitable in these moments of conflict and confusion which is the perverse work of human traffickers and people seeking to enslave those who are so vulnerable by falsely offering them help and then trapping them in a new problem.”

During his trip, the Cardinal will affirm that religious assistance should be offered to everyone, with sensitivity to ecumenical and interfaith differences.

He will also be looking at the great need for coordination, good organization and shared strategy as the humanitarian response continues, in order to embrace people’s sufferings and provide effective relief.

07 March 2022, 14:12