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Statement by Head of Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church
A pro-European Union protester throws an object during clashes with Ukrainian riot police in Kiev, Ukraine (CNS photo/Valentyn Ogir enko, Reuters)

Deadly violence broke out in Kyiv on Tuesday, February 18 between protestors on Independence Square and government forces. The international mainstream media report casualties on both sides but offer no explanation of who started the shooting and why.

According to a statement e-mailed by the press on Tuesday evening (local time), February 18, by Olha Halabala, a representative from the headquarters of the Euromaidan movement:

This morning, the chairman of Ukraine’s parliament, Volodymyr Rybak refused to register the opposition draft law [providing for a] return to the 2004 Constitution, which caused rapid escalation in the situation on Kyiv’s streets. As of 6:00 p.m.: 6 people are confirmed dead by the Maidan medical service, around 10 more fatally wounded; ... 14 journalists were beaten today; More than 500 people seriously wounded by grenades, rubber and live bullets; Kyiv has shut down... a state of emergency has been enacted as of 6:00 p.m. Everyone who is at the Maidan [Square] is now considered an extremist, according to an official statement of the Internal Ministry.... Soldiers are using grenades, throwing Molotov cocktails to set the Maidan tents on fire.... Special Forces are coordinating their activities with armed units of titushky [hired thugs]. Special Forces snipers have been spotted and photographed on house roofs in central Kyiv.

The Head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, His Beatitude Sviatoslav Shevchuk, issued a statement Tuesday which was published on the official UGCC website and widely quoted in its entirety in the Ukrainian media. An English translation of the full text of the statement follows:

With great regret I declare that the appeals by the Churches to avoid bloodshed and to resolve the conflict peacefully were not heeded. In God’s name I condemn the violence and the disregard of human rights and of the people’s will. I emphasize that the one who has authority bears full responsibility for what is happening in this country.

To all I say: stop the bloodshed immediately! I call on all the sons and daughters of the Church to fast, pray, and show solidarity with the victims. At this moment, when fratricidal disaster is looming over Ukraine, let the bells ring in all the churches of the UGCC.

 
About the Author
Michael J. Miller 

Michael J. Miller translated Introduction to the Mystery of the Church by Benoit-Dominique de la Soujeole, O.P., for Catholic University of America Press.
 
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