A Ukrainian Catholic leader said on Wednesday that the perpetrators of war in Ukraine have innocent children’s blood on their hands.

In a video message issued on March 16, Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk said that nearly 100 children had died in the bombing of Ukrainian cities.

“Beholding the children of Ukraine who are suffering from the war, the human heart cannot but be in anguish from pain and sorrow,” he said.

“According to the statistic of the international organization UNICEF, every second, a child in Ukraine becomes a refugee.”

“Just according to official information, almost 100 children have died as a result of bombing. An even greater number has been wounded. The blood of innocent children is on the hands of the criminals who began this war.”

The U.N. human rights office said on March 15 that it had recorded 1,834 civilian casualties in Ukraine, with 691 people killed. The dead included seven girls and 11 boys, as well as 30 other children whose sex is currently unknown.

Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk records a video message on March 16, 2022. news.ugcc.ua.
Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk records a video message on March 16, 2022. news.ugcc.ua.

In his message, the head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church gave an update on a married priest he had mentioned in a previous video message: Father Yuriy Lohaza, from Slavutych, a city in northern Ukraine built for evacuated personnel from the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant.

“This young priest together with his pregnant wife decided to stay there, under siege with his people,” Shevchuk said.

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“He told me recently with great anguish of heart how women who were breastfeeding their children have lost their milk due to the stress. Due to loss of electricity, they can’t even prepare food for their newborn children.”

“Last night, this priest received a gift from the Lord God. Fr. Yuriy Lohaza experienced the birth of his son. His wife, his spouse, in a cold maternity ward, by candlelight, without electricity, gave birth to a kozak for Ukraine.”

“And this young priestly marriage is a symbol for our Church, a Church that gives hope, that grants life to its people.”

Earlier on Wednesday, Shevchuk welcomed Pope Francis’ decision to consecrate Russia and Ukraine to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

“This is a spiritual act long awaited by the Ukrainian people,” he said. “Ukrainian Catholics since the beginning of Russian aggression in 2014 have been asking for this act as an urgent need to prevent the worsening of the war and the dangers coming from Russia.”

Meanwhile, Vatican Radio has announced that it will increase its shortwave broadcasts to Ukraine and Russia from March 21.

In his video message, Shevchuk expressed hope that the war was reaching a “tipping point.”

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“Not only has the Ukrainian army stopped the enemy, but it is also beginning a counter-attack. We have begun to liberate our cities and villages, we are freeing our Ukrainian land,” he said.

“On the other hand, they speak of a very dangerous moment in this war, because the enemy is engaging in the tactic of total war, that is, they are thoughtlessly destroying our cities and villages, bombing everything that can be destroyed.”