Saturday, February 22, 2014

Bishop Gudziak: Ukraine ‘traumatized’ by killings

In the midst of ongoing instability in Kiev, a Ukrainian Catholic bishop has issued another urgent appeal to all Catholics for continued prayers for Ukraine, especially this Sunday.

“We hope for the solidarity, spiritual support of our brothers and sisters in the faith,” said Bishop Borys Gudziak, who heads the Ukrainian Catholic eparchy of France and the Benelux countries. “Grace is what gives us life. God is the God of history and we pray to God with the Church universal that there be peace and justice in Ukraine.”

“We are very grateful at the consistory the Holy Father appealed for prayer for Ukraine before all of the assembled cardinals,” he said.

Bishop Gudziak spoke with Vatican Radio on Saturday morning, just hours before presiding the funeral of a 28-year-old man in Lviv. Bohdan Solchanyk, a doctoral student and lecturer at Ukrainian Catholic University in Lviv, was one of the nearly 100 protesters, killed by snipers in Kiev earlier this week. Bishop Gudziak also serves as the university president.

“Our community is broken up about this,” he said, describing Solchanyk as a “man, full of life, very much engaged in society, concerned for the future of Ukraine”.

“There is profound sadness, bewilderment but also inspiration,” he said of the general loss of life in Ukraine this past week. “The country in these days is profoundly traumatized.”

“What is very important for all of us … to try to fathom is the mystery of this iniquity, raw evil that was confronted by innocent young people,” he stated, adding that he hopes “there will not be a reaction of fury” following these killings.

He said the peace agreement signed on Friday “is a start; negotiations are very important. But I think there are many people in Ukraine that want more change quickly.”

The agreement, however, does not mean the Maidan movement is over, he said, and the Church will continue to accompany the people.

“Mother Church calls us to focus on the truth… of our God-given human dignity… to respect the Commandments, especially in these days, it’s very important: Thou shalt not kill,” he said.

“In this atmosphere of tension and emotion, it is important to be messengers of peace,” he continued. “What will be very important is that the Church is sacramentally accompanying the people with prayer for the departed, with blessings for the injured and with a healing touch to a society that has been traumatized.”

The Church has tried to be close to the people during this time of unrest, he said, though “we also realize that we control precious little. We don’t pretend to be politicians or leaders of political movements.”

(Vatican Radio)

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