Roman Catholic Bishops of Ukraine to the Church in Poland: Thank you and please continue to be close to us!

02-12-2022
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When the war brings death, suffering, and devastation, the community of the Church in Ukraine is not alone because the Church in Poland is with it. Please continue to be with us!” wrote the Roman Catholic Bishops of Ukraine in a letter to the clergy and faithful of the Catholic Church in Poland, in connection with the Day of Prayer and Material Aid to the Church in the East, which falls on December 4.  

On the second Sunday of Advent, December 4, the Catholic Church in Poland will hold a Day of Prayer and Material Aid to the Church in the East, dedicated entirely to Ukraine this year. In connection with this day, the sitting bishops of the plenary meeting of the Ukrainian Bishops’ Conference sent a letter to the Polish Episcopate to the entire Catholic Church in Poland. „We thank the Church in Poland for the fraternal love shown during over 3 decades of freedom of the Church in Ukraine. This thanksgiving message is the first we wish to express today, as the Bishops of the Roman Catholic Church in Ukraine. We want to extend our gratitude to the Poles who, while not the richest in the world, have been able to share with those who are even poorer,” the Bishops from Ukraine write.

In the letter, they thank first of all for the support provided by the Poles since February 24, that is, since the start of the war. „We are deeply touched by your constant kindness, solidarity, and tangible help. This attitude is an expression of a living faith,” they write. They also ask for material support. „This request of ours, which we make to the Church in Poland through the Polish Bishops, is a plea in the face of fear and anxiety for survival,” they admit. „We thank you once again for the gift of prayer and the financial assistance with which you will support us on the Second Sunday of Advent,” they add, assuring of their prayers for people of goodwill.

“We realize that life is difficult for you, too. Think of your brothers and sisters in the faith who are on the threshold of a humanitarian disaster, resulting from the destruction of the power supply infrastructure and the consequent anxiety and fear of the approaching winter,” the letter reads. As the bishops report, people in Ukraine experience a lack of electricity, with a consequent lack of heat and water. Across Ukraine, it is only possible to use electricity for four hours a day. There are also places where it is not available for days. „We are being approached by an enemy whose name is cold, communications paralysis and fear. Today, war is not only the frontline, where battles are fought which bring death and injury to soldiers and civilians but also the paralysis of daily life,” reads the letter.

Referring to the motto of this year’s Day of Prayer and Aid to the Church in the East: „Sent in the peace of Christ”, Ukrainian Bishops stress that amid the ongoing war in Ukraine, it is a beacon of hope for them and at the same time a source of pride in the attitude of the Polish people. „Once again, as we express our thanks, we do so with the evangelical spirit of love you have shown in these last months, when you fed the hungry, gave drink to the thirsty, welcomed the stranger, clothed the naked and offered a helping hand to the sick. You did this in your home, whose name is Poland,” they write. „Together with the entire community of the Church in Ukraine, we thank you and ask you to continue to be mindful of us. May your kind remembrance manifest itself in prayers of supplication for a speedy end to the war and the advent of peace, but also, we humbly dare to ask, in offerings and material gifts,” the letter reads.

Press Office of the Polish Bishops’ Conference

Translated by s. Amata J. Nowaszewska / Office for Foreign Communication of the Polish Bishops’ Conference

We publish the full text of the letter: 

L E T T E R
OF THE ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOPS OF UKRAINE
TO THE CLERGY AND FAITHFUL
OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH IN POLAND

The Second Sunday of Advent is a great day of solidarity of the Community of the Church in Poland with the Community of the Church in the East, this year in particular in Ukraine. This is the twenty-third time that Poles have looked towards the East to give a loving testimony of remembrance to the Catholics living there, who, despite the many trials and tribulations, have preserved their faith. They did so with a great sense of identity and unity with the entire Catholic Church. They have never severed their link with the Holy See or renounced the faith. Many, standing up for this faith, have suffered in the name of Jesus, being imprisoned, humiliated and denied educational opportunities. Many, indeed not a small number, suffered death, laying down their lives as a cornerstone of the Church and an example of steadfastness. Their attitude can be encapsulated in the words of St. Paul the Apostle, who wrote in his Letter to the Philippians: “Life to me, of course, is Christ, but then death would be a positive gain” (Phil 1:21). This was indeed their destiny. Their suffering, we trust very strongly, turned out to be a gain for them, for, as our faith tells us, in acknowledging God, they received a reward from His hand. We recognise it and we see it in the salvation they have received among the saints and the blessed, and in the earthly fruit of their sacrifice, which was the renewal of the structures of the Church after the fall of the communist regime.

The poor, shattered and scattered Church embarked on the great journey of freedom. This was not easy from the very beginning. Churches had to be retrieved and rebuilt. Priestly and religious vocations had to be nurtured. There was a need to take pastoral care of the faithful. Today, we can say that the Church stood up to the challenge. It was largely thanks to the priests and religious who came from Poland. It was they who stood side by side with the few local pastors and, by undertaking the huge effort of pastoral ministry, sharing the inconveniences and overcoming all obstacles posed by the authorities, renewed the face of the Church. This happened because their diocesan and religious communities, the parishes in which they once worked and from which they came, stood behind them in solidarity. Through their ministry, bonds of friendship were forged between parish communities. These bonds have continued and provide a testimony to and offer an image of a living Gospel of love and concern for neighbours in need.

We are reminded at this point of the words of St. Paul the Apostle recorded in his Letter to the Colossians: “whatever you say or do, let it be in the name of the Lord Jesus, in thanksgiving to God the Father through him” (Col 3:17). Thus, instructed by the word of the Apostle, we thank the Church in Poland for the fraternal love shown during over 3 decades of freedom of the Church in Ukraine. This thanksgiving message is the first we wish to express today, as the Bishops of the Roman Catholic Church in Ukraine. We want to extend our gratitude to the Poles who, while not the richest in the world, have been able to share with those who are even poorer.

Furthermore, we would like to draw attention to the motto of this year’s Day of Prayer for and Aid to the Church in the East, which is: “Sent in the peace of Christ”. In the midst of the ongoing war in Ukraine, it is a beacon of hope for us and at the same time a source of pride in the attitude of the Polish people. Jesus said: “In truth I tell you, in so far as you did this to one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did it to me” (Mt 25:40). So, once again, as we express our thanks, we do so with the evangelical spirit of love you have shown in these last months, when you fed the hungry, gave drink to the thirsty, welcomed the stranger, clothed the naked and offered a helping hand to the sick. You did this in your home, whose name is Poland. Bless you for this attitude. Take possession of the kingdom promised by God, a kingdom of truth, peace and justice.

We are deeply touched by your constant kindness, solidarity and tangible help. This attitude is an expression of a living faith, because, as the Apostle James says: “Faith without works is dead. How does it help, my brothers, when someone who has never done a single good act claims to have faith?” (Jas 2:14). Therefore, together with the entire community of the Church in Ukraine, we thank you and ask you to continue to be mindful of us. May your kind remembrance manifest itself in prayers of supplication for a speedy end to the war and the advent of peace, but also, we humbly dare to ask, in offerings and material gifts.

We realise that life is difficult for you, too. Think, however, of your brothers and sisters in the faith who are on the threshold of a humanitarian disaster, resulting from the destruction of the power supply infrastructure and the consequent anxiety and fear of the approaching winter. Already today, we are all experiencing a lack of electricity, with a consequent lack of heat and water. Practically across Ukraine, it is only possible to use electricity for four hours a day. There are also places where it is not available for days. Under these circumstances, we are being approached by an enemy whose name is cold, communications paralysis and fear. Today, war is not only the frontline, where battles are fought which bring death and injury to soldiers and civilians, but also the paralysis of daily life.

Saint John Paul II once said: “I believe that the more one loves, the more one does, because a love that is nothing more than a feeling cannot even be called love”. We ask you for this very love expressed in material support. It will help us to secure our basic needs, such as the purchase of generators to provide shelter in our parishes for our faithful, so that they can get warm or cook a hot meal in a critical moment.

At a time of such great trial, when war brings death, suffering and devastation, the community of the Church in Ukraine is not alone, because the Church in Poland is with it. You have been with us since 24 February, when the war began. It is difficult today to sum up in figures the help we have received, but it is enormous, as enormous as the Polish hearts are. Please continue to be with us! This request of ours, which we make to the Church in Poland through the Polish Bishops, is a plea in the face of fear and anxiety for survival. We therefore thank you once again for the gift of prayer and the financial assistance with which you will support us on the Second Sunday of Advent. Today, we can most effectively express our gratitude by praying for people of goodwill.

May God, the Father of Mercies, bless you and may the Blessed Virgin Mary, our common Queen and Mother, protect you for all the good bestowed upon us.

Roman-Catholic Bishops of Ukraine

convened at a plenary meeting

of the Ukrainian Bishops’ Conference

Lviv, 25 November 2022

 Translated by M. Turski / Office for Foreign Communication of the Polish Bishops’ Conference