Polish Catholic bishops’ leader calls for ‘open and hospitable hearts’ to refugees from Ukraine

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Polish Catholic bishops’ leader calls for ‘open and hospitable hearts’ to refugees from Ukraine.

Archbishop Stanisław Gądecki. / Episkopat.pl.

Warsaw, Poland, Feb 21, 2022 / 03:05 am (CNA).

The president of Poland’s Catholic bishops’ conference appealed to Poles on Monday to show “open and hospitable hearts” to refugees from Ukraine in the event of further military action.

In a Feb. 21 message, Archbishop Stanisław Gądecki lamented the escalation of tensions in Ukraine, including the reported shelling of a kindergarten in the southeastern Donbass region.

“In this situation … I appeal to my compatriots to have open and hospitable hearts for refugees from Ukraine who will want to find sanctuary from war in Poland,” he wrote.

“Everyone has the right to live in peace and security. Everyone has the right to seek for themselves and their loved ones conditions that will ensure a secure life.”

The appeal is the latest in a series of interventions by Gądecki, the archbishop of Poznań, western Poland.

Last month, he was among the signatories of a joint message from Catholic bishops in Ukraine and Poland which stressed that rising tensions with Russia posed “a great danger” to the whole of Europe.

On Feb. 12, the archbishop called on priests across Poland to lead prayers for peace.

Two days later, he urged the Orthodox and Catholic bishops of Russia and Ukraine to unite in prayer with Poland to stave off a large-scale war.

The White House said on Sunday evening that President Joe Biden had agreed “in principle” to hold a summit with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin to discuss the Ukraine crisis.

Poland is a Central European country with a population of almost 38 million people that borders both Russia and Ukraine. There are an estimated two million Ukrainians currently living and working in Poland.

Polish officials believes that up to a million Ukrainians, out of a population of 44 million, could seek refuge in Poland in the event of a full-scale Russian invasion.

“The history of Poland shows that for centuries, our homeland has been a refuge for those who, respecting Polish culture and laws, fled from persecution and hatred,” Gądecki said.

“In recent years, Poland has opened its doors to newcomers from Ukraine, who live among us, work with us, pray in Polish churches and study in Polish schools.”

“May our hospitality towards refugees find its concrete expression in the support we want to provide them with the help of our charitable organizations — Caritas Poland, diocesan and parish Caritas, and other associations.”

The archbishop said that Caritas Poland, the country’s largest charitable organization, is preparing to provide additional support for potential refugees from Ukraine.

Meanwhile, the John Paul II Catholic University of Lublin (KUL), in eastern Poland, said on Monday that it would provide its students from Ukraine with all possible assistance.

“In view of the current situation on the Ukraine-Russia border and the serious threats it poses, we express our solidarity with the Ukrainian people,” said the Rector’s College in a Feb. 21 statement.

“We extend a special expression of support to the several hundred KUL students from Ukraine. We assure you that our university is ready to help you in any way we can.”