Statement of the Permanent Synod of the UGCC In light of the interview of Pope Francis Conducted by Radio Télévision Suisse

Statement of the Permanent Synod of the
Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church
In light of the interview of Pope Francis
Conducted by Radio Télévision Suisse

We do not yet have a full version of the interview given by Pope Francis to the RTS (Radio Télévision Suisse) that apparently will be published only on March 20. According to the Holy See Press Office, the reference to a “white flag” in the interview is a summons to negotiations not to a surrender by Ukraine. In the conversation, the Holy Father speaks not only about the Russian war against Ukraine but also the war between Israel and Hamas. As he has done repeatedly, Pope Francis calls for negotiated settlements of armed conflicts.

In this regard we would like to reflect not upon the Pope’s statement but upon the point of view of the victims of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. It is important to understand the position of most Ukrainians.

To anyone on the ground in Ukraine it is clear that the citizens of Ukraine are — as we stated during our meetings with the US church leaders, politicians, and diaspora communities in the Washington, DC, Philadelphia, and New York city — “wounded yet unbroken, tired yet resilient.” Ukrainians cannot surrender because surrender means death. The intentions of Putin and Russia are clear and explicit. The aims are not those of one individual: 70 % of the Russian population support the genocidal war against Ukraine, as does Patriarch Kirill and the Russian Orthodox Church. The expressed objectives are articulated in concrete actions.

In Putin’s mind, there is no such thing as Ukraine, Ukrainian history, language, and independent Ukrainian church life. All matters Ukrainian are ideological constructs, fit to be eradicated. Ukraine is not a reality but a mere “ideology.” The ideology of Ukrainian identity, according to Putin, is “Nazi.”

By calling all Ukrainians (who refuse to be Russians and accept Russian rule) “Nazis,” Putin dehumanizes them. Nazis (in this case Ukrainians) have no right to exist. They need to be annihilated, killed. The war crimes in Bucha, Irpin, Borodianka, Izium, and in other places occupied by Russian forces have illustrated for Ukrainians (and to all people of good will) the clear purpose of this war: to eliminate Ukraine and Ukrainians. It is worth mentioning that every Russian occupation of Ukrainian territory leads to the eradication of the Ukrainian Catholic Church, any independent Ukrainian Orthodox Church, and to the suppression of other religions and all institutions and cultural expressions that do not support Russian hegemony.

Ukrainians will continue to defend themselves. They feel they have no choice. Recent history has demonstrated that with Putin there will be no true negotiations. Ukraine negotiated away its nuclear arsenal in 1994, at the time the third largest in the world, larger than that of France, the UK, and China combined. In return Ukraine received security guarantees regarding its territorial integrity (including Crimea) and independence, which Putin was obliged to respect. The 1994 Budapest memorandum signed by Russia, the US, and the UK is not worth the paper on which it was written. So it will be with any agreement “negotiated” with Putin’s Russia.

Notwithstanding the suggestions for need for negotiations coming from representatives of different countries, including the Holy Father himself, Ukrainians will continue to defend freedom and dignity to achieve a peace that is just. They believe in freedom and God-given human dignity. They believe in truth, God’s truth. They are convinced that God’s truth will prevail.

The bishops of the Permanent Synod of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, meeting in the USA:

His Beatitude Sviatoslav,
Major Archbishop of Kyiv-Halych
Father and Head of the UGCC

Most Reverend Borys Gudziak,
Ukrainian Catholic Archbishop and Metropolitan of Philadelphia

Most Reverend Włodzimierz Juszczak,
Bishop of the Eparchy of Wrocław—Koszalin

Most Reverend Bohdan Dzyurakh,
Apostolic Exarch in Germany and Scandinavia

Most Reverend Josaphat Moshchych,
Bishop of Chernivtsi

March 10, 2024

Permanent SynodPope FrancisWar in Ukraine

Source: The official website of the Ukrainian Catholic Church