Ukrainian Archbishop Decries Russia’s ‘Sacrilegious War’ on Ukraine

A teenager looks at the damages after an early morning Russian forces' strike in Kostiantynivka, eastern Ukraine, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine. - In Pokrovsk, 85 kilometres (53 miles) to the south of Kramatorsk, the main city in the Ukrainian-held part of the region, a strike destroyed or damaged …
BULENT KILIC/AFP via Getty Images

ROME — Ukraine is weeping and bleeding due to its “unequal battle with the Russian occupier,” declared Ukrainian Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk in a video message Friday.

The Ukrainian people “defend their homeland in the context of this great, unjust, senseless, and sacrilegious war,” said Shevchuk, the head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church.

In his message, the archbishop chronicled the latest sufferings of his people, including from heavy shelling on the cities of Kharkiv, Mykolayiv, and Zaporizhzhia between Thursday and Friday.

“The enemy launched a large rocket attack on the city of Toretsk in the Donetsk region, and it hit a bus stop where civilians were waiting for transport. Many people died and were injured,” Shevchuk said.

“The Orthodox church was damaged and the priest was severely injured. This sacrilege really goes beyond any common sense,” he added.

Despite the outrages committed against her, Ukraine is “learning to overcome and with God’s strength defends her right to exist, her right to freedom,” he said, noting that various international institutions have stated that “the invaders are losing the strategic initiative.”

“And Ukrainians are successfully defending their land. And therefore, today we say: Ukraine is standing! Ukraine is fighting! Ukraine is praying!” he said.

The archbishop also offered a word of thanks and recognition to Ukraine’s emergency service workers who have been tirelessly been carrying out rescue missions.

“We see our cities and villages burning every day. And our firefighters tirelessly put out these fires,” he said. “We see how the enemy systematically destroys the infrastructure of large cities, launches rocket-bombing attacks on the cities, the civilian population.”

“And our rescuers are relentlessly dismantling the rubble, and from under the debris they take out and rescue the people who were there,” he added.

“Today, on behalf of our entire Church, I want to say to our firefighters, paramedics, rescuers, and utility workers of various types: Thank you very much!” Shevchuk said. “We thank you for the heroic service you perform, even at the cost of your own life, so that cities and villages are not without electricity and gas supply.”

“We thank you for rushing to help and for being the first hand of help from God and Ukraine, which is extended to those who became victims of the Russian occupier,” he declared.

“May the Lord God bless you and reward you a hundredfold for all the heroic service you do for your people and your country,” he said.


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