Archbishop of Ukraine condemns Putin’s ‘war of total annihilation’

ROME – Ukraine’s Major Archbishop Svyatoslav Shevchuk on Friday condemned “Russia’s attack on our homeland” and urged continued resistance to the unjust “occupiers”.

“Ukraine stands. “Ukraine is fighting” and “Ukraine is bleeding,” Archbishop Shevchuk said in a video message while reporting on “very heavy, bloody fighting” being waged in eastern Ukraine, in the Luhansk region, in eastern Kharkiv region, in the Donetsk region and near the “martyr city of Mariupol”.

“We are seeing more and more that this war is indeed a war of total annihilation,” the Archbishop stressed. “We see our occupiers taking towns and villages abusing the civilian population.”

In addition to its direct attacks on civilians, “Russia is trying to destroy in advance the railroad tracks, the roads that could be used to evacuate people from dangerous areas,” he added.

Russian forces “seized and confiscated for their needs the humanitarian cargo our volunteers were trying to deliver,” to those in need, he noted, including those “on the brink of starvation.”

In his message, Shevchuk reported that he personally visited “the tragically infamous city of Bucha, which is an open wound on the body of Ukraine,” where he witnessed “the open mass grave” and the “lifeless bodies.”

A woman walks between destroyed Russian tanks in Bucha on the outskirts of Kyiv, Ukraine, Sunday April 3, 2022. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)

Loving your neighbor as a Christian means feeling connected to him, the Archbishop explained, recognizing that “where he or she rests in the mass grave, I could have been buried there too”.

It also means that all Christians today must be one with Ukraine out of solidarity with those who suffer unjustly, he said.

That is why “every Christian today, no matter where on earth he lives, whether he is Italian or German or Australian, when he sees the atrocities of the occupiers in Bucha, says: ‘I am Ukrainian,'” he said.

Because of our humanity’s unity with these innocent victims, “the occupier is waging war against you and me to put us in this mass grave tomorrow,” he added.

In this case, loving the enemy means “stopping his murderous hand, taking away his weapon, not giving him the opportunity to kill,” he explained.

In his address, the Archbishop concluded with a prayer asking for God’s protection for the Ukrainian people.

“Oh God stop the aggressor, stop this war and give life to your people. Bless our Ukrainian army! Bless our homeland!” he said.

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