‘Ukraine is fighting,’ says Catholic leader after war enters 4th week

Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk. | Олег Чупа via Wikimedia (GFDL).

Despite continued attacks by Russian forces, Ukraine is fighting, the head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church said on Friday.

“Again this night bombs and rockets fell on the heads of peaceful inhabitants,” Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk said in a March 18 video message.

“But Ukraine cannot be scared off,” he said. “Ukraine is fighting. Ukraine is fighting for its right to freedom and independence. Ukraine is standing.”

He said that Ukrainians continued to pray for their soldiers, who are standing up to the larger Russian army and have stopped it from entering further into Ukraine. The full-scale Russian invasion, which began on Feb. 24, entered its fourth week on March 17.

The major archbishop also drew attention to the sacrifices of Ukrainian medical workers.

“Today we would like to thank the Lord God for our medics, because we turn to them for help, as if to the first witnesses of human pain,” he said, asking for prayers particularly for medical workers, doctors, nurses, and paramedics.

He stressed that “medical workers are today perhaps the main targets of various attacks and strikes of the enemy against the peaceful population.”

Shevchuk cited information from Ukraine’s Ministry of Health, which reported that 117 hospitals and medical buildings have been directly attacked in Ukraine in the last three weeks.

Of these, seven have been completely destroyed, he said, adding that 43 emergency service vehicles have been shot at and a number of doctors and medical workers killed.

“Today we would like to thank the Lord God for their heroic service to their people,” he said.

“Our medics, our doctors continue to save human life in Ukraine. Today we would like to particularly give thanks in prayer for them, for the medics who deliver babies in cold hospitals without electricity, in Chernihiv, in Mariupol, in Kharkiv, and in other besieged cities in Ukraine.”

The major archbishop also appealed to the World Health Organization, Doctors Without Borders, and other international health organizations to speak out in defense of life in Ukraine.

“I thank you for the support you are giving to our medics. But speak your word to the whole world, so that the murder of people in Ukraine ceases immediately,” he urged.

“Today we ask our Lord, the Healer of our souls and bodies: Bless our medics and doctors, rescue the injured, children, soldiers, elderly. Heal the wounds of Your people. O God, rescue Ukraine.”

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