Filipino Bishop Welcomes Government Plan to Take Ukrainians

Bishop Ruperto Santos, Vice Chairman of Church’s Commission on Migrants and Itinerant People

Filipino Bishop
Refugees from Ukraine arrive at Przemyśl Głowny train station in eastern Poland. CARITAS POLAND

A Filipino Catholic bishop has welcomed the decision of the Philippine government to open the country’s doors to war refugees from Ukraine, reported CBCP News.

Bishop Ruperto Santos, vice chairman of the Church’s Commission on Migrants and Itinerant People, said the move “will be our gift to the whole world”.

“That is good news to our humanity. We have done that before and we did it successfully and fruitfully,” Santos said.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra earlier announced that Ukranians who will seek refuge in the Philippines “will be accepted”.

More than 1.5 million refugees from Ukraine have crossed into neighbouring countries in 10 days — the fastest growing refugee crisis in Europe since the Second World War.

Santos also said the church continues to offer prayers for an end to war between Russia and Ukraine.

“We, chaplains, are offering Holy Masses for conversion of Russia, to foster peace and to stop the invasion,” he said.

Catholic leaders in the Philippines joined people around the world in praying for peace to stop the Ukraine crisis.

In a brief statement on Thursday, February 24, the Archdiocese of Manila said it is one in praying for Ukraine and its people.

“May the Lord guide and protect them against war. May the Blessed Mother keep them safe under the mantle of her protection,” the archdiocese wrote on its Facebook page.

In the Diocese of Bayombong, Bishop Jose Elmer Mangalinao enjoined the faithful to heed Pope Francis’ invitation to make March 2, Ash Wednesday, a day of fasting and prayer for peace.

“Let us invite our families, friends, communities, and parishioners to offer prayers on Ash Wednesday for peace and the end of the war between Russia and Ukraine,” Magalinao said.

“Let us also ask for the intercession of our Mother Mary, the Queen of Peace, to preserve our world from the madness of violence and war,” he added.

Russia launched an attack on Ukraine on Thursday after Russian President Vladimir Putin said in a televised address that he had approved a “special military operation”.

He called on Kyiv’s military to lay down their arms and threatened severe retaliation against countries that tried to intervene.

Pope Francis during the general audience in the Vatican on Feb. 23 made an appeal for peace in Ukraine, saying that the threat of war had caused “great pain in my heart”.

“Despite the diplomatic efforts of the last few weeks,” the pope said, “increasingly alarming scenarios are opening up,” with many people all over the world feeling anguish and pain.

He prayed 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.”

The pope also invited everyone to make March 2, Ash Wednesday, a Day of Fasting for Peace.

“I encourage believers in a special way to dedicate themselves intensely to prayer and fasting on that day. May the Queen of Peace preserve the world from the madness of war,” he said.