Rome Newsroom, Mar 15, 2022 / 13:00 pm (CNA).
“We see in these days how the Church serves her people. The Church is with her people. Our priests on the occupied territories, in besieged cities, together with our people, are experiencing their pain, their difficulties, their suffering, they shed tears together with them, and with them, they pray,” Shevchuk said in a video message on March 15.
As the fighting in Ukraine entered its 20th day, the leader of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church repeated that “God is on the side of those who are victims of unjust aggression.”
“We believe that the Lord Himself suffers in the body of our people. We believe that He, as the Head of His Body, of His Church, bears the wounds of Ukraine today upon Himself,” the major archbishop said.
More than 3 million refugees have fled the Ukraine war, including over 1.4 million children, the United Nations reported on March 15.
But amid the chaotic attempts to escape the country, many elderly Ukrainians have been left behind, Shevchuk observed.
“How bitter it is for me to see older people coming to our parishes for a piece of bread. Grandfathers and grandmothers who find it difficult to walk,” he said.
“I think to myself about how many of them have been abandoned, left on their own, lonely in cold apartments, the most affected by Russian bombs.”
The 51-year-old major archbishop urged people to pray and seek ways to help and honor the elderly in Ukraine.
“Today once more I would like to address the mighty of this world: Do not be outside observers of the pain and sorrow of Ukraine! Don’t just watch on television how they are killing us! Do something! Let us do everything to stop this war which is today a wound for all of humanity,” he said.
Shevchuk recorded the video message from the besieged Ukrainian capital Kyiv.
The capital city experienced large explosions early on March 15 , which Ukrainian authorities said were artillery strikes. They hit residential neighborhood and ignited a fire, the Associated Press reported.
Shevchuk said: “Once more this night our cities burned. Once more our city of Kyiv was wounded. People died. Russian bombs once more fell during the night on the heads of peaceful inhabitants who were trying to rest in peace.”
The major archbishop said that he was praying for all those who are trying to help Ukraine and those who have expressed solidarity.
One gesture of solidarity came from the Shrine of Fatima in Portugal, which is sending an image of Our Lady of Fatima to Ukraine in response to a request from the Ukrainian Greek Catholic archbishop of Lviv.
Meanwhile, the Holy See press office confirmed on March 15 that Pope Francis had received a letter from Vitali Klitschko, mayor of the Ukrainian capital Kyiv. In the letter, the former professional boxer invited the pope to visit the beseiged city.
The Holy See press office said: “The Holy Father has received the letter of the mayor of the Ukrainian capital and is close to the suffering of the city, its people, those who had to flee from it and those who are called to administer it. He prays to the Lord that they will be protected from violence.”
“And for them and for all, he reiterates the appeal he made last Sunday with the Angelus Prayer: ‘Faced with the barbarism of the killing of children, and of innocent and defenseless citizens, there are no strategic reasons that hold up: the only thing to be done is to cease the unacceptable armed aggression before the city is reduced to a cemetery.’”
In his video message, Major Archbishop Shevchuk said: “We pray today for the search for a solution to this war. We are searching for opportunities not only to defend ourselves militarily, but also to do everything possible so that this war might end more quickly.”
“But most importantly, let us pray together for peace, peace in Ukraine, so that the sky over Ukraine might no longer be a sky filled with bombs, but rather filled with God’s peace and blessing,” he said.