1

Ukraine: Bishop Denounces Violence Against Protestors

Fr. Borys Gudziak (right), rector of the Ukrainian Catholic University in Lviv, Father Marko Tomashek (left) Director of Projects – ACN International.

Fr. Borys Gudziak (right), rector of the Ukrainian Catholic University in Lviv, Father Marko Tomashek (left) Director of Projects – ACN International.

According to a local bishop, the “brutal” crackdown on demonstrators in Ukraine is acting as a recruitment agent for the protest movement. It is hard to imagine a more prayerful [protest] in 21st century Europe,” says Bishop Gudziak,describing the country as being engaged “in a battle for dignity.”

Bishop Borys Gudziak, Eparch of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Eparchy of Paris, defended protestors on the streets under fire by government forces and repeatedly called that they not take up arms.

“It is hard to imagine a more prayerful manifestation in 21st century Europe.”

In an interview with Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), the Catholic charity which for decades has supported the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, Bishop Gudziak spoke out against the violent security response to the demonstrations, describing protestors as prayerful and non-violent people. “The people are not out on the streets to campaign for a party or candidate – they are gathering around principles. The country in somewhat traumatic ways is trying to break the bonds of the past and the bonds of fear and subjugation by declaring the God-given dignity of every human being,” said the bishop on Friday, January 24, from his Paris location.

The bishop went on to accentuate the peaceful nature of the protestors, describing how each day the demonstrations begin with prayer, and that at times prayers take place on the hour every hour, with priests mingling among the crowds, hearing confessions. “It is hard to imagine a more prayerful manifestation in 21st century Europe,” he said.

Events in the last few months and days have been a pilgrimage in our battle for dignity. In the last two months, Ukraine has changed dramatically. The level of social consciousness has increased. The brutality of the special forces is rallying more and more of the population in an active role in this bid for dignity.”

I believe that the dialogue will not be effective without international mediation.”

Bishop Gudziak, formerly rector of the Ukrainian Catholic University in Lviv, reasserted the calls made by religious leaders last December 10th including a request to the Ukrainian government to listen to the protestors’ demands, a denunciation of violence and an appeal for dialogue between the regime and the various groups involved in the demonstrations.

Bishop Gudziak then spoke about the need for dialogue and appealed to the international community to intervene to enable successful dialogue: “Dialogue is very difficult and has a very arduous methodology but there are no better alternatives… I believe that the dialogue will not be effective without international mediation.”

The bishop said: Amid increasing calls for the government to dialogue with opposition groups, Bishop Gudziak said: “We hope that reason and ethical principles will prevail and that authentic dialogue will begin.” He added that the government’s harsh treatment of protestors was undermining its authority, adding: “The legitimacy of the Ukrainian government is predicated by respect for human rights. That respect has been neglected and in some cases has been absent. Protestors have been shot and others have been beaten. The perpetrators of violence have not been brought to justice.”

ACN played crucial role in restoration of UGCC

The bishop said he hoped the country would not turn its back on the peace it has mostly enjoyed since emerging from Soviet domination and that this peaceful record was “miraculous” given the conflict in other countries emerging from USSR control.

The bishop, who was installed in Paris at a service in December 2012, highlighted the growth of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church (UGCC) from 1989 when there were about 300 priests with an average age of over 70 to today’s 3,000 priests with an average age of 40; 800 seminarians from a Ukrainian Greek Catholic population of five million.

Bishop Gudziak also paid tribute to ACN, which he described as crucial in the restoration of UGCC in the post-Soviet era.  “I would like to express a particular word of thanks to ACN which has been the greatest benefactor of our Church. We are very grateful to all the staff in the organisation and its many generous benefactors who will always remain in our prayers.”  


Directly under the Holy Father, Aid to the Church in Need supports the faithful wherever they are persecuted, oppressed or in pastoral need. ACN is a Catholic charity - helping to bring Christ to the world through prayer, information and action. Founded in 1947 by Father Werenfried van Straaten, whom Pope John Paul II named “An Outstanding Apostle of Charity,” the organization is now at work in over 145 countries throughout the world. The charity undertakes thousands of projects every year including providing transport for clergy and lay Church workers, construction of church buildings, funding for priests and nuns and help to train seminarians. Since the initiative’s launch in 1979, 43 million Aid to the Church in Need Child’s Bibles have been distributed worldwide. For more information contact Michael Varenne at michael@churchinneed.org or call 718-609-0939 or fax718-609-0938. Aid to the Church in Need, 725 Leonard Street, PO Box 220384, Brooklyn, NY 11222-0384. www.churchinneed.org
  • goral

    “I believe that the dialogue will not be effective without international
    mediation.” Bishop Gudziak
    I believe the Putin clone in the oval office will not be effective in anything.
    First of all, he’ll say and do nothing. Secondly, it’s actually more effective than if he said or did anything.
    The cursed West will not support an authentic freedom movement.