Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk records a video message on March 28, 2022. | Screenshot from Ukrainian Catholic Archeparchy of Philadellphia YouTube channel.
The head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church said on Monday that the war in his homeland presents the world with a stark choice.
In a video message issued on March 28, Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk said that politicians and religious leaders had to make clear where they stand on the conflict.
“Ukraine today is a symbol, a sign, a call that every inhabitant of the globe must choose which side to stand on,” he said.
“Everyone who respects human life, everyone who feels that the life of each person is sacred and who respects God’s commandment ‘Thou shalt not kill’ must stand by Ukraine today.”
He went on: “Anyone who respects God’s commandment ‘Thou shalt not steal’ but sees the Russian occupier looting today, robbing ordinary people, taking away the last and dooming people to starvation, must side with Ukraine.”
“Anyone who respects God’s commandment ‘Do not covet your neighbour’s wife’ but sees how this occupier humiliates and rapes Ukrainian women in front of their children cannot be neutral, but must side with Ukraine.”
Addressing “politicians, parliamentarians, religious figures, leaders of public opinion, and all people of goodwill,” Shevchuk said: “Make your choice. Stand on the side of the innocent victims of unjust aggression of someone who planned to dictate their new rules not only for Ukraine but also for the whole world and threatens to begin a third world war.”
In his daily video message on Sunday, the 51-year-old major archbishop lamented missile strikes on the city of Lviv, western Ukraine, on March 26, which coincided with U.S. President Joe Biden’s visit to Poland.
“One can say that yesterday was characterized by missile terrorism throughout Ukraine,” Shevchuk said. “And, in fact, every time a rocket hits a peaceful city, there is the feeling that yet another nail is driven into the body of Ukraine. We are being crucified.”
He also thanked the mayor of London for taking part in a rally in support of the Ukrainian people in the English capital.
In his message on March 26, he recalled Pope Francis’ act of consecration of Russia and Ukraine to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
He said that the event would “probably go down in history as the day of pan-Ukrainian and universal union.”
“We were called to this prayer by the Holy Father, Roman Pontiff, who is the symbol and servant of the universal unity of the Church of Christ,” he said.
“Together with him, we were united in prayer and in the act of a special consecration of Ukraine and Russia to the Immaculate Heart of the Virgin Mary. In this prayer, we experienced union.”
He said that the bishops of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church joined in the act of consecration from Zarvanytsia, a village in western Ukraine that is home to a miraculous icon of the Mother of God.
“A special moment of our Church’s unity before the consecration prayer was the extraordinary session of the Synod of Ukrainian Bishops,” he said. “We gathered to coordinate our actions, to figure out how best to serve our people, our defenders, our country together.”
“We listened to each other, we tried to understand the most urgent needs. Our Church is with her people, in prayer, in work, in tireless social service to all those in need today.”
In his message on the day of the consecration, Shevchuk reflected on the meaning of the call to pray for the conversion of Russia, associated with Our Lady of Fatima.
“Every bishop of the universal Church will perform this act,” he said. “What does it mean? It means that it is never possible to make a deal, to cooperate with this evil that emerges from Russia today. And that is why we must pray for its conversion, for the eradication of that evil, ‘so that it,’ as the Mother of God of Fatima said, ‘might not destroy other states, might not cause yet another World War.’ We, as Christians, have a duty to pray for our enemies.”
He went on: “We will dedicate Ukraine to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, because today we need very much the victory of good. It is she who, with her ‘yes’ to God crushed the head of this eternal serpent, is with us today.”
“May the Protections of the Immaculate Virgin Mary and all the bright angels, under the leadership of the Archangel Michael, be victorious in that spiritual battle. And Ukraine, dedicated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, is already winning and will endure in this struggle.”