We are witnesses to a great drama taking place in Ukraine. We cannot be indifferent in this situation, said Archbishop Tadeusz Wojda of Gdańsk, Chairman of the Polish section of the Pontifical Foundation Aid to the Church in Need, during a press conference at the Secretariat of the Polish Bishops’ Conference. Right Reverend Wojda announced the 14th Day of Solidarity with the Persecuted Church, which this year will be celebrated on Sunday, November 13, under the motto: „Heal the Yearning”.
Archbishop Wojda indicated that this year the 14th Day of Solidarity with the Persecuted Church is dedicated to Ukraine, „both to all those who believe in God and those who do not. This coming Sunday will be dedicated to those who are in need of this aid. We are witnesses to a great drama which is taking place in Ukraine. We can observe enormous devastation of human and material resources, indescribable violence, suffering, spiritual and physical wounds. We must not be indifferent in this situation.”
The winter is at hand and since over 40 percent of the energy and heating infrastructure in Ukraine has been destroyed, as Archbishop Wojda pointed out, „this assistance is all the more needed and awaited.”
Bishop Edward Kawa, auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Lviv, indicated that since day one of the war, Poland, the Polish nation, the Church in Poland, and Polish organisations have been ambassadors of Ukraine. He stressed that „Were it not for Poland and Poles, the situation in Ukraine would look completely different. Since the first hours of the war, we have experienced great brotherhood and help from the Polish people. Likewise, the prayers for peace are an important background that gives us strength and courage.” The bishop added that the aid from Poland makes up as much as 80 percent of the aid offered to Ukraine.
Bishop Kawa said that this aid was ongoing thanks to the cordiality and kindness of the Polish people. He recalled that winter is coming and large sections of Ukrainian cities are without electricity. „When there is no electricity, there is neither heating nor water,” he noted. „Despite these difficult conditions and imminent danger, Ukrainians are not fleeing the country. We no longer deal with the big wave that we had at the beginning of the war. Without help from outside, we cannot cope,” he stressed.
Bishop Kawa pointed out that the hands of the Church extend help to all. „This is a huge challenge for the Catholic and Greek Catholic Church. We still need a spiritual base. But it is also a challenge for us to bear witness. We are trying to help everyone, all centres of the Church in Ukraine are now made available to refugees,” he added.
Bishop Kawa thanked for this aid the Church in Poland, Caritas Polska, Aid to the Church in Need, the Polish nation, and all the shepherds of the Church in Poland. At the same time, Bishop Kawa called for more help.
Fr. Prof. Waldemar Cisło, Director of the Polish section of the Pontifical Foundation Aid to the Church in Need, highlighted the need for prayers for peace. He pointed out that Days of Solidarity with the Persecuted Church are held to offer tools to priests and men and women religious. He added that 270 churches and chapels in Ukraine have been destroyed.
Fr. Cisło observed that the Pontifical Foundation Aid to the Church in Need has been offering assistance to Ukraine since the outbreak of the war: „Every year we dedicated around 5-6 million euros for pastoral assistance. Now, during conflict, this assistance becomes emergency aid. This year we will earmark around 8 million euros for help to the Church in Ukraine.”
Press Office, Polish Bishops’ Conference
Translated by M. Turski / Office for Foreign Communication of the Polish Bishops’ Conference