Catholic bishops urge Russians to ‘turn away from evil’

Knights of Columbus Supreme Knight Patrick Kelly and Ukrainian State Deputy Yuriy Maletskiy, a Knights leader in Lviv, deliver Easter care packages to Ukrainian families at a 14th-century monastery in Rava-Ruska in the archdiocese from Lviv.

CNS Photo/Tamino Petelinsek, courtesy Knights of Columbus

Catholic bishops in Ukraine have urged Russians to free themselves from the forces of evil, while representatives of Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant churches across Europe have paid tribute to those who offer “support and solidarity” to people in need.

“Those who consider themselves a Christian nation have erased the Gospel by their actions, abandoning the commandment to love God and neighbor. This is why during Holy Week we ask for restraint and condemnation of war by everyone who still has a little faith in Russia,” the Ukrainian Latin Rite bishops said in a weekend message.

“Your only path to salvation is to turn away from evil… With this appeal we turn, as Ukrainian Catholics, to the Russian nation. Don’t let evil become your divinity.

The message was released as tens of thousands of Russian troops gathered for a fresh push against eastern Ukraine after being repelled with heavy casualties in areas around kyiv, where Ukrainian officials said the remains of more than 1,200 civilians had been recovered in the past fortnight.

The bishops said recent events in Bucha town and elsewhere had “revealed the true face of the aggressor” and provided “traces of genocide.” The bodies of a large number of civilians were discovered in mass graves in the city.

They added that Ukrainians should always ‘look to the future with hopes of victory’, despite experiencing a ‘real Golgotha’, and said they were grateful for the ‘dedication and courage’ of the armed forces and medical personnel from their countries, as well as those around the world who have offered assistance to the 4.5 million refugees abroad and the 6.5 million internally displaced persons.

Meanwhile, the head of the Greek Catholic Church of Ukraine, Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk of Kyiv-Halych, said on Monday that Ukraine was “surviving and fighting” despite “the pain, the blood, the suffering , human tears and mass murder,” adding that queues were still forming. outside the army recruiting centers for those who “want to defend the fatherland”.

Speaking on Monday, after hosting visits to Kyiv by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and Foreign Policy Chief Josep Borrell, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said it was likely that tens of thousands died in the besieged. southern port of Mariupol, and warned that savage fighting was expected in the east with the new Russian offensive.

Caritas-Spes, the charity arm of the Latin Rite Catholic Church in Ukraine, said this week that seven people died in its Mariupol office on March 15 when it was hit by a Russian tank. Two of the as yet unidentified dead, the statement said, were Caritas employees.

In a weekend statement, the Papal Academy of Sciences warned of the heightened dangers of nuclear conflict brought by the “appalling, inhumane, sacrilegious and senseless war” in Ukraine. The Vatican nunciature in Kyiv has denied recent media reports that the Holy See has criticized arms shipments to Ukraine. He said “every state” had the “right to defend itself” and that an early April interview by Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin with Italy’s ACI Stampa had been “widely misquoted”.

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