ugcc.org.ua - This week a ceasefire between Ukrainian troops and Russian-backed separatists came into effect but the head of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OCSE) said violations to the ceasefire are already occurring.  

The conflict, which started in April 2014, has killed some 10,000 people and displaced hundreds of thousands from their homes. 3.8 million people are estimated to be in need of humanitarian assistance. 

Speaking to Vatican Radio, His Beatitude Sviatoslav Shevchuk, Major Archbishop of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church, said that Europe must not allow the humanitarian emergency unfolding at its heart to go unnoticed.

Those who are trapped in the so-called “grey zone” on the border of the occupied territory which has been under constant bombardment for the past three years: almost 200,000 people including many elderly people and families. According to UNICEF some 12,000 children live in this area. He said the Church is present on the territory and supported by funds raised by Pope Francis’ call for a collection that goes towards food, medicine and other basic needs. 

-    Those who are trapped in the occupied territory and who are unable to receive international humanitarian aid. The only way the Church manages to reach these people is through local priests who do their best to travel back and forth to the Ukrainian area, filling their cars with basic goods for the population that is on the brink of hunger.

-    Then there are the hundreds of thousands of displaced persons, many of whom have sought refuge in central and western Ukraine. Unofficial statistics estimate over 2 million internally displaced persons. The national Caritas branch is practically alone in trying to assist these people.

Shevchuk also comments on the recent UNICEF report and its appeal for over 1 million children in need of assistance in eastern Ukraine.

“The suffering of a million children is the suffering of the innocent. This is what led me to make an appeal to the international community to do everything possible to end hostilities” he said, pointing out  that the Church must give a voice to the voiceless.

He said it is really upsetting to see how these children live and how they continue to try to go to school in shattered buildings. He pointed out that 19,000 children are in constant danger of mines and other explosive devices in the area. 

“Although children are told not to touch objects they come across, every day a child is injured because the militants leave toys that are loaded with explosives all over the ground” he said.

Shevchuk said nothing has changed since the change of the administration in the US, but unfortunately none of the agreements brokered so far have had an effect.

“We know there can be no military solution to the conflict in Ukraine that’s why I appeal to the international community to continue to push forward diplomatic efforts for a ceasefire” he said.

Archbishop Shevchuk concluded saying Pope Francis is constantly informed on the situation and that the Apostolic Nuncio travels often to the area. He said that everyone hopes and prays that perhaps the Pope himself will be able to accept a standing invitation to visit one day.


Source:Vatican radio,  Linda Bordoni

http://news.ugcc.ua/en/articles/major_abp_shevchuk_to_intl_community_stop_war_in_ukraine_78793.html


Teachings of Christ

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22:37-40 ESV)

Theophany

When You were baptized in the Jordan, O Lord, * worship of the Trinity was revealed, * for the Father's voice bore witness to You, calling You His “beloved Son”, * and the Spirit in the form of a dove confirmed the certainty of these words. * O Christ God, * Who appeared and enlightened the world, glory to You! (Troparion, Tone 1)

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever and to the ages of ages. Amen.

You have appeared to the whole world today, * and Your light, O Lord, is signed upon us, * who with knowledge praise You in song: * "You have come, and You have appeared, O Unapproachable Light." (Kontakion, Tone 4)

Theophany is a Greek word meaning "manifestation or appearence of God".

Random Proverb

"My son, do not despise the Lord's discipline or be weary of his reproof, for the Lord reproves him whom he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights." (Proverbs 3:11,12 ESV)

Pray Without Ceasing

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

Wisdom from the Church Fathers

First of all it must be understood that it is the duty of all Christians - especially of those whose calling dedicates them to the spiritual life - to strive always and in every way to be united with God, their creator, lover, benefactor, and their supreme good, by Whom and for Whom they were created. This is because the center and the final purpose of the soul, which God created, must be God Himself alone, and nothing else - God whom Whom the soul has received its life and its nature, and for Whom it must eternally live.

St. Dimitry of Rostov