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The chaplain Ivan Lypka: "Ukraine wants to live in freedom. This conflict must be stopped".

While the Russian troops enter the Ukrainian capital, Kiev, the Catholic chaplain of the Ukrainian community in Madrid, Ivan Lypka, speaks with Omnes. Si tratta di un gruppo di ottomila-diecimila persone, molte delle quali partecipano al culto nella parrocchia di Buen Suceso. "L'Ucraina è un popolo pacifico," he says.

Rafael Miner-February 28, 2022-Reading time: 4 minutes
interview Chaplain Ivan Lypka Ukraine

Testo originale in english qui

The news and images leave no room for doubt. The Russian troops are already in Kiev, very close to the Ukrainian parliament. We spoke with the Ukrainian priest, the chaplain Ivan Lypka, who yesterday celebrated a Mass for the Ukrainian community in Madrid, and then led an Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament praying for his country and its people. All her family lives in Ukraine. Some of his words may become 'surpassed' in a few hours, because the Kiev's prey is already at stake, as you can see.

He has spent many years in Spain serving the Ukrainian community.

- Sì, circa vent'anni. I come from Ukraine. In the province we are about twenty thousand. In these years that I have been here I have organized three groups of fedeli. In Alcalá de Henares, in Getafe and here in Madrid, where the Ukrainian community was already organized, and the chaplaincy. The cardinal of that time was very interested. The first Ukrainians arrived in 1997, due to an economic crisis, and they came here to work to support their families. There are many people already living in Spain and with Spanish nationality. And there are young people who have already had success here in their careers.

Many people originating from Ukraine have relatives in their country ...

- Surely, my family, my parents, my brothers, my sisters, my brothers, my daughters, my grandchildren, are here, the whole family is here. First only two provinces were involved in this conflict, but now it is a total war.

What news are arriving?

- Si sentono suonare sempre le sirene degli allarmi, per avvertire di andare nei rifugi in luoghi protetti dai bombardamenti. Ho parlato con mio fratello proprio stamattina. Every night you have to hide, you never know when they will attack. Ieri they have attacked important places, airports, military bases, they have also bombed areas where civilians live, and they have taken to the roads. Now they are moving to the capital. Belarus is very close.

 Is there anyone among your relatives or acquaintances who is thinking of leaving the country? Do you want to stay?

- You don't know anything for sure. To think about whether to leave or remain one must have time. The conflict began in 2014. Politicians were working, yesterday the military were subentrati. Now we don't know. There are so many dead, wounded, the whole Ukraine at this moment is at war, it is fighting in different places, because the Russian soldiers enter from different roads, from all sides. They are also attacking from the air.

We ask for you, for peace, as Pope Francis has asked.

- We have been fighting for years to save and solve the economy. Many people should think about taking care of their work, because it is with what we live and help the family we have there.

On Sunday, we celebrated a Mass, and then participated in a Prayer Vigil for Peace in the parish, so that all this would come to an end. Then a Veglia with the young people of the parish and of the Ukrainian community. And part of us stayed all night in the chapel to adore our Lord, and in these days it will continue. 

What would you like to do now? Should we appeal to the political leaders?

- It is a necessity. This war must be stopped as soon as possible. It is all in the hands of politicians, who can stop this massacre. The people are not to be ignored. Our president [Volodymyr Zelensky] says it very clearly: Ukraine does not want to fight with anyone, it is not attacking anyone. Now, in these days, we defend our freedom, our independence, our culture, our faith, our homes, our families, our country.

In your country there is an orthodox majority ...

- Yes. Siamo cattolici di rito greco ortodosso, ed esiste anche una comunità cattolici di rito latino. The majority, however, is orthodox.

In this frangente sarete tutti uniti.

- Believe in yourself. Now is the time to unite. We want unity. To spread the faith, the Church, the culture, our country, because it is very important. Ukraine has already said it a thousand times, and very clearly, through its politicians, young people, etc., that it wants to live in freedom, as now the whole world wants, in particular Europe, wants democracy, etc.. And it is also what the Ukrainian people want, I believe. We appreciate the request very much. We need it, even the military who defend peace and Ukraine.

There are more than 4,800 Catholic priests in Ukraine and more than 1,300 suore.

 - When the conflict began in 2014, the Pope organized a worldwide collection throughout the Catholic Church. We also contributed to it. That collection was dedicated to help the people involved in the conflict, in these two provinces that are now under Russian control. The representatives of the humanitarian organizations could enter those areas to bring necessary things; food, medicine, etc.

At the moment of the Ukraini, there is a shortage of foodstuffs?

- I think that there will be a lack of food generics, but we don't know it yet. Today is the second day. Nobody expected it and people are getting organized. All those with their heads on their shoulders thought that what is happening now would not be right, because what reason is there to start a war in Europe? There is no explanation.

While we talk to each other, the chaplain Ivan Lypka says: "It is a very special weapon, the preghiera. There are people who fight in the front line, but even those who ask are very supportive, because we are defending the truth and our tradition of faith, because we do not know what could happen next. Ukraine is a peaceful people, who want to live by their work, take care of themselves and support their families".

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