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Polish, Ukrainian bishops call for reconciliation as anniversary of massacres approaches

June 28, 2013

Polish and Ukrainian Catholic leaders joined in a document calling for forgiveness and reconciliation, as the 70th anniversary of the Volhynia massacres approaches.

On July 11, 1943, a force of Ukrainian nationalists launched an offensive that killed about 100,000 Poles in Nazi-occupied territory of Volhynia, around what is now the border of Poland and Ukraine. Roughly 20,000 Ukrainians were eventually killed in Polish counter-attacks.

The resolution released by Ukrainian and Catholic prelates acknowledges the “evil” of the ethnic killing, and urges the peoples of both nations to forgiveness. “We are aware that only the truth can set us free--the truth, which does not beautify and does not omit, which does not pass over in silence, but leads to forgiveness,” the bishops said. The statement was signed by Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk, the head of the Eastern-rite Ukrainian Catholic Church; and Archbishop Jozef Michalik, the president of the Polish bishops’ conference.


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