Ever more uncertain future

Fears of military escalation. The Churches' role; the Pope's words

“Moscow panicked at the escalation of events in Ukraine, where the people overthrew a totalitarian regime”. The Kremlin “is afraid of a democratic, European and prosperous Ukraine. That’s the reason for its aggression”. Ukraine’s ad interim president Oleksandr Turchynov, gave his version on the developments in Eastern Europe, a region in the limelight of the entire world. His version appears credible. What developments? On march 16, 96% of Ukrainian people in Crimea, most of whom Russian-speaking, said they agreed to annexation to Russia, and Parliament immediately proclaimed the Republic of Crimea an independent sovereign State in which the city of Sebastopol will enjoy a special status. At the same time, the Russian Federation demanded annexation of the Republic of Crimea. Kiev, the European Union and the United States, denounced the referendum as “illegitimate”, under the political and military pressure of Moscow. The EU and the US adopted immediate sanctions – not extremely severe to say the truth – against Russia. It appears that President Vladimir Putin is isolated now. Nonetheless, he seems to be far from scared, and has already set his eyes on the other Eastern Ukrainian provinces with a strong presence of Russian-speaking population. At this stage the question is: what will be the next steps of Crimea (will it cut all strings with Ukraine, which it is part of since the post-war years?), what will be the next steps of Kiev and Moscow (will they take up arms?) and of the bordering countries (that feel threatened by Putin’s new imperialism). The issues are scheduled for discussion by the European Council that will take place in Brussels March 20-21. And from Washington president Obama doesn’t exclude more determined reactions against the Kremlin. The miracle of peace. At such a delicate moment, the telephone of the auxiliary bishop of the Catholic diocese of Odessa-Simferopol, responsible for Crimea, Msgr. Jacek Pyl, is always switched on. Even after the results of the referendum that dictated the separation of Crimea from Ukraine. He said that after Sunday Mass celebration he entrusted to the Immaculate Heart of Mary the protection of Crimea and of all its inhabitants. The Catholic Church – he said – will not deliver political statements “as it is not the Church’s mission” to carry out such analyses. But he called for the help, along with “spiritual support in prayer and Lenten fasting” to the European sister Churches. Are you afraid? Are you worried? “I feel like Jesus in the Gethsemane garden – he replied, almost surprised by this ‘rhetorical question’. “In the present circumstances – continued the auxiliary bishop – we need help and spiritual support, we call for prayer and fasting in this Lenten period because we need a miracle. But we also have faith, and we believe that God rules over history and guides us also this situation. For our faith, we confide in God’s Providence, that everything that will happen may be His will and not the will of our leaders. God governs history”. The bishop made an appeal for peace: “Above all, we seek inner peace, peace in the hearts and peace in the families: the commandment of the love of Jesus that is love for our neighbour, the source of true peace and peace amongst our families”. The support of the Pope. Pope Francis “attentively follows the Greek-Catholic Ukrainian Church and has ensured His Beatitude that the Holy See will do its utmost for peace in Eastern Europe, especially to prevent escalations of the conflict”, made known the information department of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church, reporting on the private audience of primate Sviatoslav Shevchuk with Pope Francis on March 17. During the audience with the Holy Father – states a declaration – His Beatitude Shevchuk “shared what happened in Ukraine in the past three months. His Beatitude underlined that the mission of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church has always been to be near and among the people, and explained why priests were in Maidan Square with the protesters”. “The Holy Father – states the declaration – conveyed his solidarity to the Ukrainian people for the suffering and the dangers that lie ahead of them”. Pope Francis assured His Beatitude that “the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church will never be missing the protection of the Holy See”.

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