Catholic World News

Leading Ukrainian prelate issues letter on war

February 17, 2015

The head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk, has issued a letter to his priests on war.

“The defense of the homeland is the right and duty of every conscious and responsible citizen,” he said. “But determining the appropriateness of mobilization, declaring it, and providing the mobilized with all the necessary to defend the homeland is a competence of the government.”

Priests should not undertake “the functions of the State or its defense departments in the organization and conducting the defense,” he continued. “Instead, we spiritually support mobilized, their families and express gratitude of all the people of God to our fellow citizens who are willing to [sacrifice] their lives for their friends, according to the commandment of Christ.”

Calling upon priests to pray, fast, and undertake works of mercy, the prelate said that “pastors have to show patience in hearing the confessions of the combatants, encouraging and comforting soldiers and all the victims of war, pointing to the mercy of God as the source of healing physical and mental wounds and encouraging the observance of the moral rules also in the midst of the horrors of war.”

The major archbishop also discussed just war and the vocation of the soldier.

“The vocation of the warrior does not contradict the Christian vocation,” he said. “Moreover, you can be a warrior and holy!”

“The war in which Ukraine is involved should be led for life and not for death: we take part in it not out of hatred for the enemies, but to defend life and our native land from an aggressor devoid of moral principles,” he added.

“Keep in mind that of that victory on the battlefield ahead is the moral and spiritual victory over the enemy, which is based on the realization of the noble works – the defense of peace before the aggressor, the humane treatment of prisoners and wounded, the inadmissibility of any violence against civilians,” he continued. “Even the most difficult circumstances of war should be the opportunity to show moral heroism and humanity, not to provoke the release of the blind instincts of revenge and hatred.”


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  • Posted by: rpp - Feb. 19, 2015 11:50 AM ET USA

    These are beautiful words of comfort to help prepare a nation to defend itself from an invader. May God be with them.