ROME — Ukraine is weeping and bleeding for its “unequal struggle with the Russian occupying forces,” Ukrainian Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk said in a video message on Friday.
The Ukrainian people “defend their homeland in the context of this great, unjust, senseless and sacrilegious war,” said Shevchuk, the head of Ukraine’s Greek Catholic Church.
In his message, the archbishop wrote about the latest suffering of his people, including heavy shelling on the cities of Kharkiv, Mykolayiv and Zaporizhia between Thursday and Friday.
“The enemy launched a major rocket attack on the city of Toretsk in the Donetsk region and hit a bus stop where civilians were waiting for transport. Many people died and were injured,” Shevchuk said.
“The Orthodox Church was damaged and the priest was seriously injured. This sacrilege really goes beyond common sense,” he added.
Despite the atrocities committed against her, “Ukraine is learning to overcome and defending with God’s strength its right to exist, its right to freedom,” he said, pointing out that several international institutions have declared that “the invaders are losing the strategic initiative.”
“And Ukrainians are successfully defending their country. And that’s why we say today: Ukraine stands! Ukraine fights! Ukraine prays!” he said.
The Archbishop also expressed his thanks and recognition to the Ukrainian emergency services who have tirelessly carried out rescue missions.
“We see our cities and towns burning every day. And our firefighters are putting out these fires tirelessly,” he said. “We see how the enemy is systematically destroying the infrastructure of major cities, launching rocket attacks on the cities, the civilian population.”
“And our rescuers are relentlessly dismantling the rubble, and they’re getting the rubble out from under the rubble and rescuing the people who were there,” he added.
“Today, on behalf of our entire church, I want to say to our firefighters, paramedics, rescuers and utilities of all kinds: Thank you very much!” said Shevchuk. “We thank you for the heroic service you perform, even at the cost of your own life, so that towns and villages are not without electricity and gas.”
“We thank you for your haste to help and for being the first-hand help from God and Ukraine, which is being offered to those who have fallen victim to the Russian occupier,” he said.
“May the Lord God bless you and reward you a hundredfold for all the valiant service you do for your people and your country,” he said.