There are also other Catholic communities in Ukraine, including the Ruthenian Greek Catholic Church, the Armenian Catholic Church, and the Latin Church.
Thirty years ago, when Ukraine declared independence from the Soviet Union, the structures of the Latin Church were renewed. Today, it has seven dioceses, three major seminaries, and three theological institutes.
Archbishop Mokrzycki said the Catholic Church all across Ukraine was preparing for the possibility of a wave of Ukrainians to be displaced from their homes, especially from the eastern area.
“We are ready to welcome people into our churches and provide them with food and water,” he said. “We have organized first aid courses for priests, religious and laity, so that in an emergency they can care for the wounded.”
Some eastern Ukrainians have already moved to the west, he said, and “we have already rented some empty houses that will provide accommodation for them.”
The archbishop added that the prayers and support of people around the world had profoundly moved him.
“We are most grateful to the entire universal Church, and especially to Pope Francis, who has issued a worldwide appeal for prayer for Ukraine,” he said. “I would like to repeat this appeal: Continue this prayer. Keep on praying, until the final peace comes.”
The Russo-Ukrainian War began in February 2014, focused on the east of Ukraine. The conflict has claimed more than 14,000 lives and driven 1.3 million people from their homes, according to Caritas Internationalis, a Vatican-based confederation of Catholic charities.
In July 2020, the parties agreed to a cease-fire, but in recent weeks, Putin has sent at least 150,000 troops to the Ukrainian border.
During his weekly general audience on Wednesday, Pope Francis appealed to believers and non-believers alike to pray and fast for peace in Ukraine.
“I invite everyone to make next March 2, Ash Wednesday, a day of fasting for peace. I encourage believers in a special way to devote themselves intensely to prayer and fasting on that day. May the Queen of Peace preserve the world from the madness of war,” the pope said on Feb. 23.
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Hannah Brockhaus is Catholic News Agency's senior Rome correspondent. She grew up in Omaha, Nebraska, and has a degree in English from Truman State University in Missouri.