Archbishop Gallagher in Ukraine: 'We persevere on path to peace'
By Christopher Wells
Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, the Vatican’s Secretary for Relations with States, travelled to Kyiv on Friday, the third day of his visit to the war-torn nation of Ukraine.
The closeness of Pope Francis
“My visit is intended to demonstrate the closeness of the Holy See and Pope Francis to the Ukrainian people, particularly in light of Russia's aggression against Ukraine,” the Archbishop said.
And, he added, “I assure you that both the Holy Father and his closest collaborators, including myself, suffer greatly from the many deaths, violence of all sorts, the devastation of cities and infrastructures, the separation of so many families, and the millions of displaced people and refugees.”
30 years of diplomatic ties
The long-expected visit to Ukraine, which had been postponed due to health concerns during the Covid outbreak would, “in times of peace,” have focused on “the positive elements of bilateral relations between the Holy See and Ukraine,” as 2022 marks the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between the two states.
Archbishop Gallagher emphasized the Holy See’s “great satisfaction” with the relationship, highlighting the periodic exchange of high-level visits, especially in more recent years.
The Archbishop also noted the exchange of letters and phone calls between Pope Francis and Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky, which, he said, “have taken on more significance in the sad context of the war in the Donbas over the last several years and the current large-scale conflict in Ukraine.”
Persevering in pursuit of peace
With regard to the ongoing conflict, Archbishop Gallagher acknowledged the “‘limitation’ of our human attempts to find immediate ways to end this senseless conflict.” He continued, “Faith in God and in humanity, however, compels us to persevere in the pursuit of peace through prayer, words, and deeds and not to succumb easily to the enormous challenges.”
He said his meetings with Ukrainian government officials and religious representatives, as well as victims of the war, have enabled him “to touch the wounds of the Ukrainian people and hear their passionate prayer for peace.”
Finding a resolution through negotiation
The Secretary for Relations with States reaffirmed once more the Holy See’s “willingness to aid a genuine negotiating process, seeing it as the just route to a fair and permanent resolution.”
Archbishop Gallagher also commented on the efforts being made to meet the spiritual and material needs of the Ukrainian people through the presence and activity of the Greek and Latin Catholic local churches (eparchies and dioceses) and the institutions affiliated with them, which, he noted, work in harmony with the efforts of other churches and religious organizations.
Putting an end to destruction and death
Finally, Archbishop Gallagher expressed his hopes that the Ukrainian authorities, together with the Church and other Christian bodies and religious organizations would find “the support they so desperately need, and that the combined efforts of the entire world will soon put an end to destruction and death.”