“Just keep getting the truth out! Please don’t let us down!”

Last week I called my friend Sviatoslav Shevchuk, the Major Archbishop for the Greek Catholics of Ukraine.

I have grown to admire this young, brave brother bishop over the last years, as we have often spent time in Rome together, and especially when I was with him last year for the dedication of the daring new Cathedral of the Resurrection in Kiev.

The Catholic Church in Ukraine is young, alive, growing, and prophetic.  This, from a worldly point of view, is illogical, near miraculous, as Greek Catholics were viciously persecuted by Stalin in the years of Soviet oppression.  Even after the breakup of the communist empire, and the restoration of freedom in Ukraine, Catholics were not given back their former churches that had been given to the Russian Orthodox, and the courageous yet decimated community almost had to start afresh.

Through the optic of the Gospel, we know that “the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the faith,” so believers are hardly surprised by the vitality and growth of the Greek Catholic Church in Ukraine.

Archbishop Shevchuk, like his predecessor, Cardinal Lubomyr Husar, now retired, is a true “confessor of the faith,” a pastor revered by his people, a leader in bringing unity, peace, and hope to a country threatened by thugs and thieves within, and an aggressor on the border.

I check in with him, because I worry about him, want to encourage him, and am inspired by him.  My call last week found him uncharacteristically grim and apprehensive.

“Timothy, we are under attack!  Our country is under siege from Russia!  Our people are being murdered, their homes destroyed, not by alleged separatists in Ukraine wanting to return to Russia, but by Russian troops and mercenaries.  Please see that the truth gets out. There is an invasion here.”

Last week, the Catholic bishops of Ukraine issued a chilling statement that their beloved country is “flowing in blood,” and urged Western governments – – like ours – – not to become “accomplices in the sin of murder.”

Just so we would understand, the Ukrainian bishops were blunt: “This peaceful, sovereign nation has been subjected to a direct military intervention by a Northern neighbor – – hundreds of units of heavy weaponry and technology, thousands of armed mercenaries and soldiers of Russia’s standing army are crossing our borders of Ukraine, sowing death and destruction.”

After the Second World War, when the Iron Curtain separated Central and Eastern Europe from the free democracies of the West, Catholics in the United States were in solidarity with persecuted Christians in Poland, Ukraine, Croatia, Lithuania, Hungary, and the other countries under Russia’s jackboot.  We spoke up for them; our government listened.

We had hoped it would now be different.  Things looked so bright in Ukraine for awhile.  It appeared that religion was free, the Church encouraging a just, open, civil society.

Apparently, a prosperous, free, independent Ukraine, with freedom of religion leading to a revived faith, is a threat to a neighbor with a history of interference.  The jackboots have apparently come out of storage.

I asked my brave brother bishop how I could help.  “Just keep getting the truth out!  Please don’t let us down!”

I’m trying…

On this Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows, I commend to you a Church and a Nation, Ukraine, with her at the foot of the Cross.



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6 Responses to ““Just keep getting the truth out! Please don’t let us down!””

  1. Patrick says:

    I wondered about this. What I heard in the news initially was that the lawfully elected government of Ukraine signed a treaty or something with Russia instead of the EU. Then a group staged a coup, threw out the lawfully elected government, installed new leaders, and started calling people who objected to this illegal power-grab “separatists.” I don’t know what’s actually happening there, but I’m skeptical of the entire situation.

  2. If we would only do as the BVM asked and consecrated Russia ,this and the many other problems ,including NYC ,would be resolved.

  3. Khrystyna says:

    Patrick, what you say is a total result of Russian propaganda. I’m Ukrainian.
    To tell the long story short, Yanukovich came to power, falsificating the results of presidential elections. Instead of signing Association with EU (as was promissed and most of Ukrainians wanted), he signed Association with Russia. People could not stand it (not mentioning total corruption and unjustice on every level) and started revolution called “Maidan”. During this revolution more than hundred of civil, pieceful, unarmed citizens where killed by police at the order of Yanukovich regime.
    After three months of revolution Yanukovich and his fellows escaped Ukraine to Russia (he was a kind of Putin’s agent in Ukraine). New Government and President where elected in Ukraine (they are lawful and recognised by all world leaders).
    When Putin realized that he looses control over certain part of Ukraine, he organised separatist movement (they say they want to join Russia and are oppressed in Ukraine, because they speak Russian and don’t want to speak Ukrainian). Then Putin illegaly annexed Crimea (part of Ukraine) and now is trying to take eastern regions of Ukraine. He has brought Russian military here and kills our people and destroys our homes.
    Patrick, please don’t let yourself be deceived by Russian propaganda!
    As our Archbishop Shevchuk said, “Just keep getting the truth out!”

  4. Allen Rogers says:

    Thank you Cardinal Dolan for “getting the truth out” as you said you would. The situation in Ukraine is dire and if one simply looks at what has happened – ignoring the propaganda – one can see that Russia is trying to return to the empire status it once had. Look at all the military provocations going on in eastern Europe. Russia is also blackmailing Europe over their energy supplies, because they control most supplies of natural gas and oil which Europe must have. This is what was bound to happen when “Green Energy” hysteria took over the energy policy of many European countries, and they are now being hostage to Russian diktates.

  5. 22Sept2014
    Your Eminence,
    I am a practicing Catholic, Roman Catholic by birth, but now a Greek Byzantine Catholic. I( am a strong admirer and supporter of Major Archbishop Sviatislov Shevchuk and pray daily for the Church in Ukraine.
    I wish that our R.C. pastors in NY Archdiocese would have a little more vision to the Universal Catholic Church, especially Eastern Christianity. The R.C. faithful in NY Ardchdiocese know litdtle about Eastern Christianity because it is never talked about from the pulpit. My pastor will not speak on the subject of ecumenism and ignores my requests. “Who is the Holy Theotokos?” a parishioner recently asked me. Why should they not know the Greek title of the Holy Mother of God? My pastor again refused to talk about “The Theotokos”. May we in the NY Archdiocese BROADEN our vision and think of ecumenical Christianity. Peter D. Aglione, Hawthorne, NY Petradom737@aol.com

  6. Ben in Maine says:

    The Eastern Catholic Faith in Ukraine is strong, no doubt, because it rpeaches the Truth of Christ without reservation. No apologies, no false ecumenism, no weakened liturgies that replicate Protestant Mega-Churches, and so forth. Solid-identity Catholicism.