PRESS RELEASE : Ukraine – The Catholic Church is trying to aid the people

Reinhard Backes, ACN International

Adapted by Robert Lalonde, ACN Canada

Koenigstein , 21 February, 2013 Mieczyslaw Mokrzycki, ArchbishopMontreal/Königstein – March Monday 2nd – 2015 – The Catholic Church in Ukraine is trying to aid the people regardless of their confession. The Archbishop of Lviv, Mieczyslaw Mokrzycki, drew attention to this during a visit to the international Catholic pastoral charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN). “We look after refugees, provide pastoral as well as material care for the families of soldiers, operate soup kitchens, and we are now also distributing food and medicines to other needy people,” said Archbishop Mokrzycki while looking in briefly after an ad limina visit to Rome.

“Pope Francis listened very carefully to us, the bishops from Ukraine, and he promised to speak out for peace in Ukraine to those in positions of political responsibility and to the international institutions. He also agreed to give us material assistance for our work on behalf of Ukraine,” the Archbishop of Lviv emphasised.

UKRAINE / NATIONAL 14/02434 Support of the Ukrainian Caritas for

The Catholic Church’s aid activities are directed to refugees from the conflict regions in the east of the country as well as to the needy in West Ukraine. The conflict has been made more acute by the critical economic situation in the country. Archbishop Mokrzycki said: “The Mayor of Lviv, for example, addresses himself directly to the Churches again and again, asking if we can help to accommodate such-and-such a number of refugees.

There is great solidarity; Christians of different confessions are coming closer together. Although the people do not have very much, they help one another.” In order to house the refugees, according to the Archbishop, makeshift shanties have now been erected in both East and West Ukraine. ACN supports the Church’s aid activities in numerous Ukrainian dioceses. In recent months, a sum of more than 182 300 dollars has been provided for this purpose.

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Ukraine “Today we are seen as an Indigenous Church”

In the days to come, we will present you with a series of 3 articles about the Church in Eastern Europe:  Ukraine, Moldavia and Belarus.


Reinhard Backes, ACN International

Adapted by ACN CanadaUkraine-1

In Ukraine the Catholic Church enjoys a very positive reception. This is true for both the members of the Roman Catholic and of the Greek Catholic Churches. While the latter is present mainly in western and central Ukraine, Catholics of the Latin rite are living throughout the country, as the Archbishop of Lviv, Mieczysław Mokrzycki, stressed during a visit to Aid to the Church in Need (ACN). Formerly, the Catholic Church in Ukraine was often referred to as the Polish Church, but today we are being seen more and more as an indigenous church. The Catholic Church in Ukraine has a new identity,” Archbishop Mokrzycki explained. He claimed that a clear majority of Roman Catholic Christians speak Ukrainian. Among the faithful other languages such as Hungarian, Slovakian, Romanian and Russian are also common, about ten per cent speak Polish. Because of a lack of local priests, pastoral workers who are originally from Poland often work in the Archdiocese of Lviv. Currently, there are about 60 out of 180 priests who are Polish.

Until the year 1945, the Bishops of the Roman Catholic and Greek Catholic Churches formed a Bishops’ Conference. In the subsequent period of the Soviet Union, to which Lviv belonged after the Second World War, Christians suffered reprisals. In this period of oppression, persecution and dispersion – the cohesion of the Roman Catholic and Greek Catholic Churches dissipated due to cultural differences, nationalities, denominations and religions in Ukraine. The same divides were felt in Lviv. War, the German occupation, the destruction of the Jewish population and the soviet era left deep wounds in the country. All the way to present day Lviv, the past places a strain on the relations between the Christian denominations.

With the break-up of the Soviet Union and the revival of church life, the Roman Catholic and Greek-Catholic Bishops initially went their different ways; the relationship was not always untroubled. In particular many buildings confiscated in the communist era were not returned to the Roman Catholic Church. At the instigation of Archbishop Mokrzycki the Bishops of the Churches, which are in full communion with the Holy See, now meet annually, for the past five years in a joint conference and for the past three years also for the purpose of joint religious exercises; to date there has not been a joint Catholic Bishops’ Conference, however.

Archbishop Mokrzycki comes from the Polish town of Majdan Lukawiecki, located on the Ukrainian border. The distance to Lviv is barely 75 kilometres. Until 1991, the Polish section belonged to the Archdiocese of Lviv. Only since Ukraine’s independence have the boundaries of the diocese been limited to Ukrainian territory.

Archbishop Mokrzycki studied theology in Lublin. In 1987 he was ordained as a priest. In 1996 he obtained his doctorate in Rome and then until 2005 he was secretary to John Paul II and Benedict XVI. For just under five years Mieczysław Mokrzycki, now 52, has led the Diocese of Lviv in the west of Ukraine. He sees it as his task to strengthen pastoral work: “Ukraine is a young country, a new reality. And the Catholic Church in Ukraine is a living church. We are primarily missionaries here; we see that in our catecheses, which are received with great interest because people are opening themselves up to the Faith.”

Aid to the Church in Need has supported the pastoral work of the Roman Catholic and Greek Catholic Churches in Ukraine for years. In 2012, 277 projects were funded, with the help of ACN benefactors.


Tomorrow:  Moldavia, where ACN helps to buy a new car for a sum of $8,000 to help continue parish life.