Ukrainian Major Archbishop calls for peace

2014-01-21 Vatican Radio

(Vatican Radio) The head of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church, Major Archbishop Sviatoslav (Shevchuk) is calling on Ukrainians to join in prayers for peace and unity as they celebrate the Divine Liturgy on 22 January – the anniversary of Ukrainian independence in 1918.

“With great dismay and sadness we witness the events taking place at the moment in Kyiv,” he said, “In view of these exceptional circumstances I would like to appeal to all the faithful of the church, the Ukrainian people, and to all people of good will. In the name of God, stop the bloodshed! Violence was never the way to build a free and independent state! Bloodshed will never reconcile hearts or bring a positive outcome.”

The call comes in response to the violence that has marred anti-government protests. Police and protestors have clashed over the past two nights as government forces attempted to break up the protests and dismantle barricades leading to government offices.

In his appeal, addressed to all sectors of Ukrainian society, Major-Archbishop Sviatoslav called on the government to listen to the people: “Listen to your people, hear them, do not use violence against them or repressive mechanisms.”

He asked citizens, “especially the protestors who are standing on the Maidan” to return to non-violent demonstrations. “I beg of you, go back to the peaceful nature of the protests. Do not let emotions get the better of you. Neither fear nor aggression nor anger was ever helpful in determining our future.”

He reminded Bishops and priests to continue to “speak words of peace to hearts and minds” and to preach the gospel of peace.

Major Archbishop Sviatoslav concluded his message with an appeal for prayer: “I call everyone to prayer for peace in our country. May the Lord of peace, the Lord who has given us his peace be with you all.”

Listen to Christopher Wells' report: