The pontifical foundation Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) sends one million euros to the Catholic Church in Ukraine to support its work in the face of the serious humanitarian crisis generated by the Russian invasion.
“What we all wanted to avoid has happened. Ukraine is in a state of war. ACN has supported the Church in Ukraine in the past and will not abandon her at this critical and difficult time”, explained Thomas Heine-Geldern, CEO of ACN.
On the morning of February 24, the government of Vladimir Putin ordered Russian military forces to invade the Ukrainian regions of Lugansk and Donetsk, but the attacks spread to other parts of Ukraine.
Ukrainian authorities reported shelling across the country, including at airfields and military headquarters near the capital Kiev.
Military and civilian deaths have been reported.
Pro-Russian separatists have reported capturing small towns in eastern Ukraine; and the country’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, imposed martial law throughout the country.
With the worsening of the crisis, ACN committed to support 4,879 priests and religious, as well as 1,350 religious in Ukraine so that they can continue with the pastoral and aid programs.
The pontifical foundation offered emergency aid to the four Greek-Catholic exarchates and the two Latin dioceses in eastern Ukraine, located in the areas of Kharkiv, Zaporizhya, Donetsk, Odessa and Krym.
“Especially now, ACN has to ensure the presence of priests, nuns and brothers with their faithful, in parishes, with refugees, in orphanages and in homes for single mothers and the elderly, who face the challenge of surviving in a spiraling climate, as a result of the war”, indicated Heine-Geldern.
Bishop Pavlo Honcharuk, Bishop of Kharkiv, one of the dioceses that will receive the help of ACN, explained that “the situation is worse every day. We live hour by hour. prices keep going up, especially essential things. The situation in the diocese is very difficult.”
The Ukrainian Prelate lamented that “the number of faithful has decreased and those who remain, unfortunately, cannot maintain the parishes or serve the priests. They come to us and ask for help for priests and nuns”.
With the emergency aid provided by ACN, in this diocese there will be 57 priests and 54 religious, men and women, who will be able to support themselves with essential things such as gas, electricity, fuel and food; and also help those who have less.
The financial situation in the country has deteriorated since the conflict in the east began eight years ago, but since the crisis in January 2022, the national currency, the hryvna, has been increasingly devalued. This has become more acute after Russia recognized the two breakaway regions as independent entities: Luhansk and Donetsk.
Thomas Heine-Geldern said that “this conflict is also a psychological war. People need comfort, strength and support.”
“ACN’s emergency aid, in addition to current support, will strengthen the Catholic Church in Ukraine in its commitment to stay there and sustain the faithful in the face of military and economic war,” he said.
Finally, the president of ACN assured “our prayers for the people of Ukraine, so that through the intercession of Our Lady of Peace, they can be freed from the pain of violence and loss of life.”