Russian actions destabilize Ukraine and harm Catholic Church

September 29, 2014

Archbishop Gullickson said that Ukraine today suffers from “destabilization, attributable to the depredation carried out and still continuing at the hands of Ukraine’s own criminal oligarchy, exacerbated by Russian aggression against its territorial integrity and sovereignty.”

In an overall of the crisis, he said that the undeclared war which the Russian Federation is waging against Ukraine has in effect destabilized a country already sorely tried by the depredation of homegrown and foreign profiteers (not only from Russia), who have torn its economic and social fabric, especially in the period since independence in 1991. Beyond this, Ukraine is just now coming around to remove structures of servitude from the Soviet past, which other countries in Central and Eastern Europe were able to address immediately after the fall of the Berlin Wall.

The archbishop said, that Catholic churches have been badly damaged in recent fighting, and even after the violence ends there will be heavy costs to restore them. Catholic priests and religious have been driven out of some areas where Russian forces are active—particularly in Crimea—and it is questionable whether they will be allowed to return.

“If the Russian aggression ended tomorrow, apart from rebuilding the East of the country, Ukraine would still have enormous challenges to face in order to root out corruption and establish a just society,” the Vatican representative said.

On a more positive note, Archbishop Gullickson remarked the enormous growth of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church since the fall of the Communist regime. “Since 1989,” he said, “the number of Greek-Catholic priests in Ukraine has climbed from around 300 to over 3,000.”

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