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In Ukraine, 'avoiding the prison of hatred within ourselves'
"We must work on ourselves spiritually so that, when we have been released from a real prison or a real conflict, we do not end up in a prison of hatred within ourselves."
By Eva-Maria Kolmann
NEW YORK—In the face of chaos and ongoing violence in Ukraine, the head of the country’s Greek Catholic Church has reiterated his call for reconciliation among all warring factions.
In an interview with international Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need, Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk of Lvov cited the words of a priest who was abducted last year and spent 12 days in captivity: "We must work on ourselves spiritually so that, when we have been released from a real prison or a real conflict, we do not end up in a prison of hatred within ourselves."
The prelate insisted on the ideal of "a Church that serves;” given the sense that "the whole world had been turned into a field hospital,” he said that the need for comfort and aid was enormous—calling for special care for traumatized people, especially children. His priests have been receiving training to learn to identify post-traumatic stress disorders and treat them appropriately.
Interfaith collaboration is vital, the archbishop said. For example, the Russian Orthodox Svyatogorsk monastery is the temporary home for 5000 Internally Displaced People and Catholics are hard at work to provide them with aid. Caritas Ukraine has recently opened five new offices in Eastern Ukraine, making it the second largest aid agency after the Red Cross.
The archbishop reported that the Greek Catholic Church in Ukraine this summer will be celebrating the millennial commemoration of the martyrdom of Saint Boris and Saint Gleb in unison with the Russian Orthodox Church. "For us as Christians this is an opportunity to join together publicly to celebrate the two brothers who emulated the passion of Christ and refused to take up the sword against their brothers. This is for us a symbol of the future," Shevchuk said.
In 2014 Aid to the Church in Need was able to fund 394 projects in Ukraine, committing a total of some $7M. But a lot of help is still needed to reconstruct the buildings of the Greek Catholic Church, which was almost completely wiped out under communism. But investments were not only made in "bricks and mortar.” ACN also supported active and contemplative sisters with subsistence and training aid and transportation. Every Catholic seminarian receives ACN support.
Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk of Lvov (ACN photo)