The Catholic Church in Ukraine continues to place its hopes in peace talks and diplomatic solutions for the current crisis. This was the message relayed by the Latin Catholic Metropolitan Archbishop Mieczyslaw Mokrzycki, of Lviv, during a visit to the headquarters of the international Catholic pastoral charity and pontifical foundation Aid to the Church in Need (ACN International) in Königstein, Germany, on Monday 21 February.
Throughout the country, he explains, the Church is preparing for a potential wave of refugees. “We are ready to welcome people into our churches and provide them with food and water. We have organized first-aid courses for priests, religious and laity so that in an emergency they can care for the wounded.” Archbishop Mokrzycki adds that some Ukrainian refugees have already arrived in the west of the country and that “we have already rented some empty houses that will provide accommodation for them“.
Despite the very tense situation, the archbishop takes the view that there is always hope for a compromise. “As long as people are still talking, there is a glimmer of hope. War does not bring any solutions, only destruction, suffering and lack of peace”, Archbishop Mokrzycki insists.
The archbishop expresses himself profoundly moved by the level of international solidarity with Ukraine. “We are most grateful to the entire universal Church, and especially to Pope Francis, who has issued a worldwide appeal for prayer for Ukraine”, he says.
“I would like to repeat this appeal: Continue this prayer! Keep on praying, until the final peace comes!” Archbishop Mokrzycki urges.
Pope Francis announced that Ash Wednesday will be a Day of Prayer for Ukraine. His appeal for prayer came during his General Audience in Paul VI Hall. Ash Wednesday this year falls on March 2.
“My heart aches greatly at the worsening situation in Ukraine,” the Holy Father said. “Despite the diplomatic efforts of the last few weeks, increasingly alarming scenarios are opening up.
“Like me, many people all over the world are feeling anguish and concern. Once again the peace of all is threatened by partisan interests. I would like to appeal to those with political responsibility to examine their consciences seriously before God, who is the God of peace and not of war; who is the Father of all, not just of some, who wants us to be brothers and not enemies. I pray that all the parties involved refrain from any action that would cause even more suffering to the people, destabilizing coexistence between nations and bringing international law into disrepute.”