Statement of the Ukrainian Catholic Bishops of the US In Response to the Attempted Russian Annexation of Four Regions of Ukraine
Before the eyes of the world, after a farcical series of pseudo referendums, Russian President Putin, violating all principles of international law, announced the annexation of four regions of Ukraine. Each of these regions is approximately the size of Massachusetts, and together they form 15% of Ukrainian territory that, before 2014, was home to 8.5 million Ukrainians.
We wholeheartedly and unconditionally condemn this escalation and codification of brutal Russian aggression and ask all people of good will to confirm and amplify their active spiritual and material solidarity with the people of Ukraine.
Russian imperialistic colonialism, accompanied by gruesome war crimes, the killing of tens of thousands of innocent civilians, and the massive destruction of villages, towns, and cities, enslaves not only the general population but also its Churches and religious communities. The future of the Ukrainian Orthodox parishes, Eastern and Roman Catholic Churches, Protestant, Jewish and Muslim, and other communities of faith that stand up, as they have in unison, for truth and justice will be under a death sentence if these occupied territories of the Ukrainian state are not liberated.
Ukrainians who suffered repeated genocidal waves in the twentieth century with 15 million deaths caused by world wars and totalitarian regimes – both Soviet and Nazi – have no illusions about the consequence of Russian occupation. Every time in the eighteenth, nineteenth, twentieth, or twenty-first centuries when a Russian regime – imperialist, Soviet, or Putinist – annexes Ukrainian territory, the life of Ukrainian Catholics and Ukrainian Orthodox is suffocated. It can take time, or it can be rapid. The result is always the same. All faiths suffer along with the general population. The discovery of Russian atrocities in Bucha, Irpin, and most recently Izyum lay bare Russian genocidal intentions. It is incumbent on the free world to help the valiant Ukrainians who show inspiring courage to reject and reverse these heinous acts of state terrorism and neo-colonial gluttony.
Russia encompasses 11 time zones. In its imperial embrace it envelopes some 120 ethnic groups and nations. How much more can Russia consume? How much more human suffering will this colonialism cause? Russia is 28 times as big as Ukraine. With your help it will not get a 29th portion. African Americans will never be slaves again. Americans and Canadians will not be the colonial subjects of Great Britain. Algeria and Ivory Coast will never again be a colony of France. The Democratic Republic of the Congo will never be a satellite of Belgium, Mexico and Argentina of Spain, and Brazil of Portugal. 31 years ago, with an overwhelming 90% vote, Ukrainians decided that they will not be colonial slaves of Russia. Now they are defending their God-given freedom and dignity with their very lives.
It is time to renew and reinforce our prayer, advocacy, and aid in supporting the defense of democracy and Biblical truth in Ukraine and the world. We stand with David against the pretensions of Goliath. We stand with Christ the Crucified who always was close to the poor and marginalized. Who became a victim to save the victims of sin. We trust that the victims will not be abandoned by the powerful of the world and that God’s truth will prevail.
Ukraine, which in 1994 was the first country that unilaterally gave up its nuclear arsenal, is today threatened with nuclear weapons by the country that, through the Budapest Memorandum, guaranteed Ukraine’s independence and territorial integrity. America was a signatory of this guarantee. The sacrifice of Ukrainians, their prophetic option for peace commands our solidarity.
Ukraine’s stance for and witness to peace is undeniable. Today it needs the world’s help to resist an unprovoked invasion. We encourage all people of goodwill to do their part.
Pray to the merciful Lord, advocate for the defense of the innocent, and help generously the millions of victims.
In God we trust!
+ Borys Gudziak
Archbishop of Philadelphia for Ukrainians
Metropolitan of Ukrainian Catholics in the United States
+ Paul Chomnycky, OSBM
Eparch of Stamford
+ Вenedict Aleksiychuk
Eparch of St. Nicholas in Chicago
+ Bohdan J. Danylo
Eparch of St. Josaphat in Parma
+ Andriy Rabiy
Auxiliary Bishop of Philadelphia