The Church helps to build social justice by preaching and applying four principles of its social doctrine: dignity of the human person, solidarity, subsidiarity and common good. For free people, a state is a common good. For Ukrainians, a state is the only guarantee of being free on their land. Previously, we lived in our land as citizens of the second class.
This was stated by His Beatitude Sviatoslav [ed. Major Archbishop of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church] in an exclusive interview for the Italian edition of ACI Stampa, telling about the meeting of the UGCC bishops with the Pope Francis and representatives of the Vatican Curia.
According to the Head of the UGCC, the central theme of their conversation was the war in Ukraine and the humanitarian crisis caused by the war.
“A post-genocidal people”
“We are a post-genocidal people: we still cure the wounds of the great tragedy of Holodomor in the history of our people. Two World Wars and extermination of Ukrainians by Stalin’s famine turned Ukraine into the land wet with blood of millions of people. Now our state is experiencing a period of self-worth awakening. And it’s important to understand what we mean when we use the word ‘Ukraine,'” said the Primate.
And later he added: “By the word ‘Ukraine’ we mean primarily the nation with its own history, its wounds and, at the same time, its hopes. We think of the state as a subject of international law with well-defined boundaries recognized by the international community. This is a state which is the common good of our nation in its multinational and multireligious dimensions; of the nation which is undergoing decolonization, that is, trying to get out of the periphery to become a partner in dialogue with the countries of Central and Eastern Europe.”
“Instead, our aggressor, that is, the Russian Federation,” said His Beatitude Sviatoslav, “by the term ‘Ukraine’ means the territory that is an object of negotiations and geopolitical interests. The Russians deny the existence of such a nation and consider Ukraine as a temporary state. They want to demonstrate that, rather, it is a state that “failed”. These are two completely different concepts.”
According to the spiritual leader of the Greek Catholics, the Ukrainian people are now going through decolonization. Moreover, Ukrainians now have to cherish their dignity and freedom.
Danger of restoration of “a system like the Soviet Union”
“The war in Ukraine is a colonial war in the very heart of Europe with the intent to restore a system like the Soviet Union – to restore the empire. Therefore, we told the Holy Father about the desire of Ukrainians to protect the country. If the aggressor succeeds in destroying the Ukrainian state, they will “redraw” the borders of Eastern Europe, and this will be a tragedy for the whole Europe. This topic was one of the main themes of communication with the Holy Father,” said the Head of the UGCC.
He noted that the bishops of the UGCC tried to adequately represent our country, because “unfortunately we are often represented as people who do not know who to go with, with Europe or with Russia.”
“To characterize the current situation in our country, I use this comparison. Ukraine is a prisoner who has spent many years in prison and has just been released and therefore feels, on the one hand, free, but on the other – having faced with the need to reintegrate into a free society, remains a prisoner of prison mentality,” explained His Beatitude Sviatoslav.