Ukrainians are afraid, but hope in the power of prayer, says Archbishop

ROME – Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk of Kyiv-Halych, Ukraine, a major archbishop of the Ukrainian Catholic Church, knows his people are afraid.

“People are overwhelmed with great fear, and that’s normal in the face of such danger” as Russia continues to deploy troops all along its border with Ukraine and the United States and other NATO countries are warning their troops of a possible deployment, the archbishop told Catholic News Service Jan. 25.

At the same time, he said, “as Christians we have hope for the victory of good over evil. We pray especially for those who want to harm our people, so that the Lord will divert their evil intentions and guide them on the path of peace.”

The Archbishop, his faithful and all Ukrainians, he said, are grateful to Pope Francis for making January 26 a day of prayer for peace in Ukraine and for his constant prayers for an end to the fighting that began in 2014 between Russian-backed separatists and Ukrainian forces in eastern Ukraine.

The fighting, he said, was “a silent war: it has not been spoken of much in recent years, and the voice of the Holy Father was practically the only one that called for peace and recalled this bleeding wound. in Central Europe”. “

But now “the situation is particularly critical,” he said in a written response to questions. “We perceive a real threat from Russia in the form of a full-scale invasion of our country.”

Calling for a day of prayer, Pope Francis said he was concerned that tensions on the Ukrainian-Russian border could “challenge the security of the European continent, with even wider repercussions”.

“It is clearer than ever that the war in Ukraine is not just a war against Ukraine, and therefore not just a problem for Ukrainians,” Bishop Shevchuk said. “It is obvious that today Europe is facing the worst security crisis in decades”, and the pope “realizes how dramatic the possible scenarios could be for the whole European continent”.

Of course, he said, “in union with millions of Christians around the world, the faithful of our church in Ukraine and in the lands of immigration”, will mark the day of prayer for peace. From 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., he said, the Ukrainian church’s Zhyve TV will broadcast a live “prayer telethon,” including on its YouTube channel.

“We will respond to the call of the Holy Father with our conviction that prayer is stronger than any weapon,” the Archbishop said.

In a video message asking Ukrainians to pray, the Archbishop told them: “When new dangers arise and the enemy is at our doorstep, our military check their combat effectiveness, statesmen work to streamline the social mechanisms, diplomats work to make sure the world supports our people and our state.And what do Christians do?Christians pray, fast and repent of their sins.

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