Ukrainian Catholic leader on anniversary of war: We need spiritual strength


Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk records a video message on April 8, 2022. /

Rome Newsroom, Feb 24, 2023 / 10:30 am (CNA).

Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk said Ukrainians need spiritual strength as much as ever as they mark one year since Russia’s full-scale invasion of their country.

“A year passes: a year of pain, of suffering, a year of great crimes against God and man, crimes against humanity, war crimes that the world must recognize and condemn,” he said in a Feb. 23 video message.

The leader of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church has shared a video message every single day since Feb. 24, 2022.

“On this 365th day of war, we thank the Lord God that we can continue to fight against the evil of war,” he said.

Shevchuk noted that some military experts believe that the escalation of the conflict, especially in the Donbass region, reached its peak on Feb. 23.

In the last day alone, 90 ground and 10 missile attacks were carried out against Ukrainian army positions in towns and villages, he said.

According to the archbishop, approximately 700 medical centers, clinics, and hospitals were attacked by the Russians in the past year, while an estimated 500 churches, chapels, mosques, and synagogues were destroyed, and thousands of people lost their lives.

To mark the sad anniversary of Feb. 24, the Synod of Bishops of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church has declared a special day of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving.

The Church also organized a 12-hour prayer marathon on Friday, which began at noon local time in Kyiv.

“We feel that when we join together in prayer, fasting, and good deeds, we win. We so much need spiritual strength to bring our victory closer,” Shevchuk said.

The prayer marathon began in Kyiv at the Patriarchal Cathedral. It then passed on to the Ukrainian cities of Zaporizhzhia, Odessa, Kherson, and Irpin before moving: Melbourne, Australia, will then pick up the prayer chain, followed by Przemyśl, Poland, and Rome, Italy.

Winnipeg, Canada will be the first stop in North America, followed by Philadelphia. The prayer marathon will conclude in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

“Our whole Church, both in Ukraine and in the settlements, will stand before the face of God in a prayer vigil,” Shevchuk said.

The prayer will be, he added, a time of “unity and solidarity of Ukrainians around the world.”

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