“The work has always been by our side, and we ask you to continue to help us, even if the worst should happen.” Bishop Jan Sobilo, Auxiliary Bishop of Kharkiv-Zaporijjia
(Königstein/Montreal, March 11, 2022)—Bishops, priests and members of religious orders working into the war-torn country have written to ACN to thank it and its benefactors for the financial, material and spiritual support they are providing during the conflict.
Bishops, priests and members of religious orders in the war-torn nation of Ukraine have written to ACN to thank the organization and its benefactors for the financial, material and spiritual support afforded it during this conflict.
Aid to the Church in Need has increased its emergency aid program for the Catholic Church in Ukraine by $450,000 to help it meet the challenges of the ongoing war in the country. This new amount brings the total emergency aid announced to $1.95 million.
“If the Church were not there, many people would have no support, either material or moral. And what about the spiritual support that helps people get through this tragedy?” says Marie-Claude Lalonde, National Director of ACN Canada. “Our experience proves to us that our partners in the Church are in the best position to help people in need.”
This financial aid is distributed to the Catholic Church of both rites, to religious communities and to the Church’s social projects throughout the country. Particular attention has been given to dioceses in the east, where the fighting has been most intense, but also to some areas in the west of the country where there has been an influx of refugees fleeing the fighting zone. In the capital, Kyiv, which is being bombed, the Church is also receiving financial support to enable it to help the neediest.
ACN and Ukraine: A Long-standing Link
ACN started its support to the Ukrainian Christians in exile in 1953. Following the legal restoration of the Church in 1990, after years of persecution, ACN aid was crucial to help rebuild Church’s life. At the time the current invasion began the organization had many projects in Ukraine, including the training of 900 seminarians, and the upkeep of infrastructure and support to members of religious orders who help the poor and needy with material, financial and spiritual assistance. Ukraine is one of the countries which has received most aid from ACN in recent years. In 2020 only India received more financial support, and before that Ukraine ranked fourth, after India, Syria and Iraq. With the outbreak of the armed conflict, some of the Ukrainian projects have become more pressing than ever. ACN remains in constant contact with its partners in Ukraine and is also cooperating closely with other organizations that are working on the ground.
‘At this particular time, ACN has to ensure the presence of priests and religious sisters with their people, in the parishes, with the refugees, in the orphanages, with the elderly and those who will face the challenge of surviving in a climate of spiralling costs of living as a result of the war,’ says executive president Thomas Heine-Geldern, adding that ‘people need consolation, strength and support. This immediate emergency pledge by ACN will strengthen the Catholic Church in Ukraine in its commitment to continue to serve its flock in the face of material and economic war.’
In a recent interview with ACN, Bishop Stanislav Szyrokoradiuk of Odessa, thanked all those who have shown their support since the war started, saying, ‘I am very grateful for all the political support and solidarity. I would especially like to thank Aid to the Church in Need. It was the first organization which asked me: “What should we do? How can we help?” Thank you for this readiness to help.’
The sentiment is shared by Auxiliary Bishop Jan Sobilo of Kharkiv-Saporischschja, in eastern Ukraine. ‘The organization always stands with us. If the worst comes to the worst, please keep helping us,’ and Bishop Pavlo Honcharuk of the same diocese, who is based in the city of Kharkiv, which has seen great destruction, sent a message to Aid to the Church in Need, saying, ‘we are very grateful for the mobilization of so many people, not only all over Ukraine, but also abroad. I would like to especially thank the benefactors who, through ACN, fulfil their calling to show mercy and love. I sincerely thank you all, the whole of the ACN team, all employees, volunteers and benefactors.’