Saint Louis – Eastern Rite Catholic bishops from the United States, meeting recently at the Maronite Catholic Pastoral Center in St. Louis, expressed concern over the plight of Ukraine and Ukrainian refugees fleeing Russia’s ongoing war against their homeland.
Their agenda included meeting via Zoom with two of their brother bishops who were unable to attend the meeting in person: Archbishop Borys Gudziak, the Ukrainian Catholic Archbishop of Philadelphia and the head of external relations for the Ukrainian Catholic Church in the world; and Bishop Bohdan Danylo of the Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of St. Josaphat in Parma, Ohio, who was with Catholic Extension officials on a March 25-April 1 trip to Poland along its border with Ukraine.
The bishops gathered in St. Louis heard “their terrifying stories, as well as their courageous efforts to help the poor, the displaced and the victims of war in Ukraine,” said a press release on the March 30-31 meeting. .
“The Bishops expressed their support and solidarity with efforts for justice and peace in Ukraine, and encouraged humanitarian donations and continued prayers for peace,” he added.
“I thank all the leaders of the Eastern Catholic Churches and the Roman Catholic Church and all the clergy, religious and faithful whom they represent in the United States for their sincere prayer, their active solidarity and their generous support for the suffering people of Ukraine,” Gudziak said in an April 4 email message to the Catholic News Service about the gathering of his brother bishops.
“We are not alone in this terror and horror and we trust that the Lord’s will will be done,” he said. “I pray that this tragedy will end up being transformative. This Lent we walk together through the Passion and Crucifixion to the Resurrection and new life.”
In an interview on the day Russian armed forces invaded Ukraine, February 24, Gudziak said the Eastern European country was “being crucified before the eyes of the world.”
In an extensive March 14 interview with the Catholic News Service in Washington, the prelate said Russian President Vladimir Putin did not invade Ukraine out of fear that NATO would encroach on its borders, but out of “the disease of democracy that could spread like a virus, and it is deadly for oligarchies and authoritarian rulers,” said the archbishop, who is “foreign minister” of the Ukrainian Catholic Church.
Russia needs “the territory of Ukraine, its population, its market, its technological capacity. … This country, with its seaports, helps Russia to regain its colonizing and imperial nostalgia”, a- he declared.
The Archbishop strongly reiterated this message and called for an end to the war and for Putin to be held accountable in numerous interviews, panel discussions and press briefings.
As of April 11, according to the United Nations, more than 10 million Ukrainians have fled their homes since the Russian invasion. A quarter of them are now in Poland.
In recent days, world leaders have raised the issue of “serious war crimes” committed by Russian troops, including in Bucha, a suburb of the Ukrainian capital of kyiv, where footage that began circulating on April 1 showed bodies scattered in the streets.
On April 8, a missile strike on a train station in the eastern city of Kramatorsk, Ukraine, killed at least 52 people, including five children, and injured around 100 civilians.
Bishops’ meeting in St. Louis thanked Pope Francis “for his consecration of Russia, Ukraine and the whole world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary as well as for his efforts to serve the poor, refugees and displaced persons of Ukraine and to end the terrible war.”
Since the prayer of the March 25 act of consecration, in which a large part of the Catholic world participated at the invitation of Francis, the pontiff has renewed his call for an end to the war in Ukraine and has firmly denounced the conflict as a barbaric act used by those in power. at the cost of innocent lives.
Other items on the agenda of Eastern Catholic bishops in St. Louis include:
- Eastern Catholic Catechetical Ministries;
- Safe environment protocols for the protection of children and young people in each eparchy;
- The new translation of the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches;
- A historical presentation on the Armenian Church;
- Financial assistance received from the Catholic Home Missions Collection of the American Bishops.