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Ukrainian Catholic leader says Russian ‘propaganda war’ is reminiscent of Goebbels

May 09, 2014

Speaking recently in Toronto, the head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church commented on “the reality of Russian aggression in Crimea, and the comfortable West’s inability to respond to this most dangerous development since World War II.”

The Euromaidan protests, which started in November and led to the departure of pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych in February, were prompted by support for “the Association Agreement with the European Union, promised and reneged upon by the former president of Ukraine,” said Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk, who leads the largest Eastern Catholic church in full communion with the Holy See.

“But as the government responded with brutality, the protests became much more than the voicing of a pro-European stance, they turned into a national movement to restore human dignity in a society that had been brutalized by a corrupt system that had abandoned the godless Soviet nomenklatura style of government in name only, but not in substance, after Ukrainian independence and the downfall of the Soviet Union,” he continued. “We believers cannot look at the denial of human dignity again and again without reacting. If it is all in the end about loving God and loving neighbor, then human dignity takes on an importance that is so central. It trumps considerations of gain, of personal success, of comfort and a quiet private life disengaged from the issues of civil society.”

The prelate continued:

Of course, from the great exultation of seeing off an unworthy president who fled the country at a time of crisis, leaving the Ukrainian Parliament to pick up the pieces and institute an interim executive, and a sense of triumph, we quickly were confronted with the reality of Russian aggression in Crimea, and the comfortable West’s inability to respond to this most dangerous development since World War II.

Then the events in Eastern regions of Ukraine began, fomented again by special operatives from Russia, the “political tourists” in neat uniform, but without any identifying insignia, whom the people have christened “little green men”. And all this time some 40 thousand Russian troops at the border of Ukraine, to further cloud the minds and hearts of those people who had not yet been set free by the “revolution of human dignity.” And the propaganda war unleashed by Russia is the most twisted informational assault since Goebbels pontificated that if you brashly lie long enough, loudly enough some will inevitably believe you.

“A situation like ours can engender so much bitterness,” the prelate said. “Enmity between nations is a difficult thing to resist in a situation of aggression. It takes deep spiritual equanimity to be able to stand ready to defend one’s homeland without allowing one’s heart to be polluted by hatred for other nations. But this is what we expect of our people.”

He added:

We want them to know that God is with us, and for that reason the Church will stand with the people, but we also want them to understand that God loves the armies and the citizens of Russia, too. How can God love both sides? Let me ask you a rhetorical question. Who could believe in a God who only loves one of the sides? That does not eliminate the discernment of what is right and what is wrong. It does not eliminate the need to stand for justice and truth at the cost of perhaps sacrificing one’s life for it. But human dignity demands from us a respect for every human being and for every nation, ethnicity, and religious tradition. These are children of God we are talking about.


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Show 2 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: - May. 11, 2014 5:12 PM ET USA

    Unfortunately many in the West don't remember what horrors were visited upon the Ukrainian people starting in the 30s; those who didn't die of starvation were murdered; priests, nuns, and those civilians who opposed Stalin's persecution.

  • Posted by: jplaunder1846 - May. 10, 2014 12:34 AM ET USA

    Ominously very similar to Nazi propaganda before they entered Sudetenland prior to WW2.