Russia’s Invasion ‘Likely to Require Martyrdom’

Archbishop Borys Gudziak of the Ukrainian Catholic Archeparchy of Philadelphia was recently interviewed by CNA regarding the invasion of Russia into Ukraine. 

Newsroom (03/ 07/ 2022 14:00, Gaudium Press ) The leader of the Ukrainian Catholic Church in the United States, in an interview with CNA, said the “unthinkable is possible” for the Church in Ukraine, calling Russia’s President Vladimir Putin a “sociopath” who is “leading his own country and neighbours into an abyss.”

Indeed, according to Archbishop Borys Gudziak, “The population knows that panic is what Putin wants to create in order to undermine social systems, banks, the economy, shops, government structures, services and ministries. However, the people are quite determined to help in the defense of their country, their freedom and their dignity, and to this end the government is handing out weapons to citizens.”

The following is an excerpt from the interview:

How is the Church in Ukraine being affected? And how does it respond?

“Every time Russia occupied Ukrainian territory in the last 200 years, it exterminated the Ukrainian Catholic Church. Not immediately, but little by little, it was being strangled.  And this happened in the 1820s, in 1870, in 1945 and 1946, and it happened over these eight years in the Crimea. […]

So our Church sees that the Russian occupation will undoubtedly bring persecution to the Ukrainian Catholic Church. It will probably require martyrdom. The bishops and priests will try to remain on the spot and be in complete solidarity with the people. But now matters are being decided with rockets, cannons, guns and fighter planes. The Church cannot respond on that level. She responds in a way that is visible to the eyes of faith. She responds through prayer, invocation of God’s grace, the Sacraments, healing by presence, healing with listening and moral support to people who are being denigrated and violated.”

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What is the reason for such hostility towards Catholics?

One fundamental reason is that the Catholic Church is the Universal Church. And an authoritarian or totalitarian regime wants total control. And total control over a community that has a link to Rome and an international network of relationships – that total control cannot be instituted. So just the universal identity of the Catholic Church is a nuisance to dictators. The Catholic Church has a very well developed social doctrine. It is difficult to limit the teaching of the Catholic Church solely to the private sphere.

Thus, the Orthodox Church in Soviet times could function, but it could not preach. It could not teach the young. It could not catechize. But you could go and pray privately in church, and there could be a sermon explaining the Gospel for your private life, though not for society; and not for your town or your community. The Catholic Church is dangerous for tyranny and that is why tyrants attack it.[…]”

What is your message to all Ukrainians?

Look into the eyes of the Lord before you go to sleep today. He is with you. He counts every hair on your head. He is the God of history and His truth will prevail. Hold your head high. Hold on to hope. Hold on to all you can. Make a contribution to the freedom and dignity of your people.”

Compiled by Sandra Chisholm

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