Vatican cardinal to make 2nd visit to Ukraine border at Pope Francis’ request

Hannah Brockhaus   By Hannah Brockhaus for CNA


Cardinal Michael Czerny takes possession of his titular church of San Michele Arcangelo in Rome, Jan. 19, 2020. / Pablo Esparza/CNA.

Vatican City, Mar 14, 2022 / 11:20 am (CNA).

Cardinal Michael Czerny will travel for a second time to the Ukraine border at Pope Francis’ request, the Vatican announced on Monday.

The Jesuit cardinal, who visited the border between Hungary and Ukraine last week, will arrive in Slovakia on March 16 and head toward the east of the Central European country, which shares a frontier with western Ukraine.

“Cardinal Czerny will depart again for Ukraine, at the request of Pope Francis, to manifest the Holy Father’s closeness to those who are living with pain the consequences of the ongoing war,” the Vatican said on March 14.

The 75-year-old cardinal, who is the interim head of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, visited Ukrainian refugees arriving in Hungary on March 8-11.

Czerny was born in Brno, a city in the then Czechoslovakia, in 1946, before his family moved to Canada two years later. Czechoslovakia divided into the Czech Republic and Slovak Republic, or Slovakia, in 1993 following the collapse of communism.

Papal almoner Cardinal Konrad Krajewski also traveled to Ukraine at the request of Pope Francis. While in the western city of Lviv, he helped load trucks with humanitarian aid destined for parts of the country under bombardment. The Polish cardinal left Ukraine for Rome on March 12.

According to Vatican News, Czerny said that the papal envoys’ presence in Ukraine was “a double response, one of immediate charity and one of integral human development in the long term. A commitment that will last through the ages.”

The Vatican said that “Pope Francis is following this mission with prayer, like those of recent days, and, through His Eminence [Czerny], wishes to make himself close to those who are fleeing from the fighting and suffering from the violence of other men.”

On Monday, Pope Francis met with Eduard Heger, the prime minister of Slovakia, which has received more than 200,000 people from Ukraine since the full-scale Russian invasion on Feb. 24.

The Holy See press office said that Heger also met with Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin and “foreign minister” Archbishop Paul Gallagher.

The talks included “an in-depth discussion of the war in Ukraine and its impact at regional and international level, with particular attention to the humanitarian situation and the reception of war refugees,” the press office said.

The pope met the same day with Edgars Rinkēvičs, Foreign Minister of the Republic of Latvia, which borders Russia.

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