“We appreciate your support and your prayers for the Ukrainian people,” said Father Andrii Romankiv at the beginning of his mass at the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Ukrainian Catholic Church in the city of Miami, Florida, before dozens of Ukrainian parishioners who did not lose faith and hope there is aceasefire on military strikes by Russia.
“Russia is continuing a brutal and demonic war against Ukraine”, explains the priest to voice of america. “In fact, it is a war against all of humanity, a war against the basic rights and values of humanity, a war against the right to life and freedom, a war against human dignity,” he continues.
According to data from the Ukrainian Center for Political and Economic Studies, more than 70% of the population in Ukraine considers themselves believers. And about 67% follow the Orthodox Church. It is estimated that between 4 and 5 million people of the Ukrainian population are Catholic, which represents about 9%.
Many wonder if the Church can really mediate in this conflict, after the Pope Francis expressed his concern due to the escalation of the conflict. In fact, the Supreme Pontiff met with the Russian ambassador to the Vatican to express his concern about the Russian invasion.
He even offered to mediate between the conflict to find a way out of this serious situation that has forced more than a million people to flee, according to United Nations estimates.
“The Holy See, which in recent years has constantly, discreetly and with great attention followed the events in Ukraine, offering its willingness to facilitate dialogue with Russia, is always ready to help the parties to return to this path”, Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin said.
“Pope Francis talks about the role of the Church as an institution, and I absolutely agree with him, the Church has always done everything, does everything and will do everything for dialogue and peace,” he told FLY Priest Romankiv insisting on the conciliatory and unifying role of the Church among the Ukrainian population.
Given the scenario that is being experienced now, he understands that “the Ukrainian people have no choice but to defend themselves, their right to life and freedom, to defend their lives and their Sovereign and Independent Homeland.”
“Genuine peace in Ukraine will be possible when the Russian invaders leave the territories of sovereign Ukraine and bear all responsibility and consequences for crimes against humanity in accordance with the principles of international law,” he stresses.
Otherwise, warns Romankiv, “the world will give the green light to legalize the terrorism of the largest against the smallest in the XXI century.”
Among the parishioners of that church, there is diversity of opinion. César López, a Peruvian whose wife is from Ukraine, assures that “the Church should have spoken out a long time ago” about what is happening in Ukraine and not wait for the war to break out.
“I don’t know what the bishops and monsignors are waiting for. They are stuck in their churches and they are not saying anything to Putin, a coalition of cleric people has not been formed to demonstrate against Putin,” López said, wondering “where are the pastors, the evangelists, the protestants, who are seeing that there is a massacre in the Ukraine”.
Luba Huertas, a Ukrainian who has been living in South Florida for several years, admits to being “very sad” because “history repeats itself” in her country of origin.
However, she, who also regularly attends the Ukrainian Church in Miami, does believe that eventually the Church could play some kind of important role, although for the moment it has not been taken into account in the negotiations between the governments of Moscow and Kyiv.
“We hope that God will hear our prayer and help us to make Ukraine free. The Church can play an important role, but God says: I help, but first they have to fight and we are fighting. But we can’t do it alone, we need help,” the woman added.
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