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Aid to the Church in Need launches campaign to help Ukraine

Aid to the Church in Need is organizing the campaign "Two years of war. Ukraine, I don't want to forget you", as February 24, 2024 marks two years since Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Loreto Rios-February 20, 2024-Reading time: 4 minutes

A Ukrainian woman holds a rosary ©Aid to the Church in Need.

At a press conference held this morning at its headquarters in Madrid, ACN Spain has launched a new Ukraine relief campaign "to come to the aid of a Church overwhelmed by the traumas and wounds of the conflict. José María Gallardo, director of ACN Spain, and Monsignor Sviatoslav Schevchuk, major archbishop of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, and Monsignor Visvaldas, apostolic nuncio to Ukraine, spoke on the recording, as did Father Mateusz Adamski, live from Kiev.

Trauma management support

A team of Aid to the Church in Need was recently in Kiev to learn first-hand about the needs of the Ukrainian population. There, they had the opportunity to meet Monsignor Schevchuk, who asked them to continue talking about them: "If you stop talking about us, we will cease to exist".

An estimated 80 % of the Ukrainian population has physical or psychological wounds as a result of this two-year war.

"The future of Ukraine and the Church depends on how we are able to respond to this need to overcome the trauma of the war that has already affected the heart of Ukrainian society: the family," says Msgr. Schevchuk.

José María Gallardo, director of ACN Spain, explained at the press conference that the war in Ukraine is the "greatest humanitarian catastrophe since the Second World War". Since the beginning of the conflict, 6.3 million refugees and more than 5 million internally displaced persons have been counted. Currently, 40 % of the Ukrainian population is dependent on humanitarian aid for subsistence.

Aid to the Church in Need is therefore organizing a program for the training of priests, religious and lay people. To date, it has 11 centers in which 1021 people have been assisted, and it also wants to support the care of young people and children in a center in the Volyn region.

"Solidarity is working".

Monsignor Sviatoslav Schevchuk spoke at the press conference through video recordings in which he explained that "what is happening in Ukraine is genocide. [...] People are being killed in Ukraine because they are Ukrainians". The Archbishop gave as an example the massacre in Bucha.

However, he explained that there is good news: in the first place, that "the Church as Mother takes care of her children" and that "solidarity is working", since, in these two years, "no one has died of hunger or thirst. This is good news".

Monsignor Schevchuk thanked ACN for their help and recalled some figures to raise awareness of the magnitude of the conflict: 14 million people have been forced to leave their homes and 50,000 have lost their legs or hands.

The war has also had a major impact on families, as 120000 marriages have been divorced in these two years, the highest number of divorces in Ukraine's history since its independence.

Bishop Schevchuk also explained that the Russian authorities have banned Greek Catholic worship in many of the invaded territories.

In addition to the numerous casualties suffered, the archbishop spoke of the 35,000 missing persons, and the torture for the families of not knowing whether their loved ones are alive or dead.

Vocations are growing

ACN's campaign focuses on three key areas: trauma management, livelihood assistance and the training and support of seminarians, whose numbers have increased since the war. "The war has not slowed down vocations and all seminarians in the country have been receiving training or livelihood assistance since the invasion began. Many of these young men are now orphans and have no means to continue their formation," ACN reports.

The director of ACN Spain explained that since the outbreak of the conflict, Aid to the Church in Need "has supported the Church in Ukraine with more than 600 projects and more than 15 million euros. This country has been the most supported in 2022 and 2023 by this institution".

Visvaldas Kulbokas, Apostolic Nuncio to Ukraine since 2021, who thanked ACN for its help and support from abroad, explaining that "as a Church we operate as a united body", and that "at the center of everything are the people".

"Time of grace"

To conclude the press conference, Father Mateusz Adamski, a Polish priest who is currently pastor of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Kiev, as well as vice-rector of the Redemptoris Mater seminary in the same city, spoke live from Kiev. This priest, at the beginning of the invasion, "sheltered dozens of people in the cellars of the parish to keep them safe from the bombardments".

Father Mateusz explained in Spanish that, despite the harshness of the war, this time has also been "a time of grace", in which "we have been able to really touch the living God" and "feel Paradise with our hands".

In addition, the Assumption parish priest stressed the importance of Jesus Christ's command to love one's enemies, and explained that in the parish they also pray for their oppressors. "This prayer is very powerful for them," he said. Father Mateusz explained that even now people are coming closer to the church, and that in fact a parishioner, who has now disappeared, received Baptism, Confirmation and Communion with great joy.

For this reason, Father Mateusz explained that, despite the war, "our mission is to proclaim the risen Jesus Christ". "Our homeland is in Heaven, it is not here," he said.

When asked if the end of the war is near, the priest answered that "he sees no possibility of defeating a Goliath like Russia", but that "the Lord is the Lord of History. If he allows it, it is to purify us and to convert us".

In conclusion, the parish priest thanked all the Spaniards for their help during these two years, and also for hosting Ukrainian children on vacation, both in Spain and in other countries, because in this way they have been able to rest and return to their homeland with renewed strength.

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