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"Don't forget Ukraine! Without your help we won't survive!"

Sviatoslav Shevchuk, Major Archbishop of the Catholic Church in Ukraine, has launched a new appeal for help and remembrance to the entire international community during a virtual meeting organized by ACN.

Maria José Atienza-February 8, 2023-Reading time: 3 minutes
Ukraine war

A residential building in Kramatorsk destroyed by a Russian missile attack ©OSV News/Vyacheslav Madiyevskyy, Reuters

The Major Archbishop of the Catholic Church in Ukraine, Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk, together with the Apostolic Nuncio to Ukraine, took part in the ceremony. UkraineMons. Visvaldas Kulbokas in an online meeting, organized by ACN International to report on the situation in the Ukrainian nation almost a year after Russia began an offensive against Ukraine. ACN has been, since then and before, one of the institutions that, along with Caritas Internationalis, has provided a continued support the Catholic Church in that country.

After almost a year since the beginning of the Russia's invasion of UkraineThe latter is in a "very deteriorated" humanitarian and social situation, stressed the major Archbishop of the Catholic Church in Ukraine.

Bishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk ©CNS photo/Voznyak Production

Bishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk called it a "miracle" that "one year later he is still alive" and focused, among other things, on the terrible situation of the Catholic Church in the territories occupied by Russian forces.

In fact, he stressed that they know nothing about the status of Father Ivan Levytsky and Father Bohdan Heleta, two Catholic priests arrested by Russian militia since last November.

"We don't know what will become of us in the future.

The conflict is leaving cities destroyed and, especially, the major archbishop pointed out, Russian missiles have destroyed key industries: "50% of Ukraine's electricity production is destroyed, this means that every village, every town, experiences lack of electricity on a daily basis".

"People are returning to their homes and they have no electricity or water, and it is not enough with the energy that can be produced through generators," said Msgr. Shevchuk, "for example, last week in Odessa there were 4 days without electricity at all".

"People are waiting for a word of hope."

 Since the beginning of the war, the Catholic Church in Ukrainehas mobilized to assist and help the Ukrainian population. In this regard, the major archbishop stressed that "from the Church, people are waiting for a word of hope, as well as food or clothes".

Msgr. Shevchuk explained the key lines of the pastoral plan that the Ukrainian Catholic bishops The first step was to "heal the wounds of this war, both physical and psychological wounds, and to maintain the structures of charity and solidarity, to be able to work as a united community".

As part of this healing work, Shevchuk explained that "listening centers have been established in each eparchy, where anyone who needs help can go for assistance".

The Nuncio, Visvaldas Kulbokas. ©CNS photo/courtesy of the Nunciature of Ukraine.

Special attention deserves the chapter of the areas occupied by the Russian army: Donetsk and Lugansk, in the east, and Kherson and Zaporiyia, in the south, where the presence of the Catholic Church is under suspicion and there are "searches of parishes or even news of torture of the faithful or priests accused of collaborating with the Ukrainian partisans" described Bishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk. In this regard, the Nuncio pointed out that, at present, three vicariates covering an area of 60,000 square kilometers do not have the attention of any Catholic priest because they have been arrested, have been forbidden to continue or have been forced to leave".

For his part, Visvaldas Kulbokas stressed that the majority of Ukrainians want the victory to "protect and rebuild their country".

"Thanks to the Holy See we can try to free prisoners."

Pope Francis' constant attention, his role as the voice of this war to the world and the diplomatic work of the Holy See has also been the subject of thanks from the Major Archbishop of the Catholic Church in Ukraine who pointed out that "thanks to the fact that the Holy See maintains an open line of communication with Russia, we are able to work for the release of prisoners. On this point, Shevchuk said that during his last meeting with the Holy Father he gave him a list of 42 doctors, both civilian and military, with the aim of working for their release.

"Without your help we will not survive!"

At all times, both Bishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk and Visvaldas Kulbokas have been grateful for the prayer support and material donations they have received from all over the world.

At this point, the Major Archbishop of the Catholic Church in Ukraine stated that "today I can say that in Ukraine people are not dying from hunger or lack of clothes, but we do not know what will become of us in the future" and he wanted to end his speech with a clear request "Do not forget Ukraine! Without your help we will not survive!"

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