Amid a blitzkrieg-style onslaught which has seen tens of thousands of soldiers from the Russian Federation invade Ukraine from the north, south, and east, assaulting its territory by land, sea, and air, one Catholic aid organization is taking direct action to help Ukrainians in dire straits.
While political figures, journalists, television pundits continue to provide Ukrainians with a never-ending supply of lip service—and not much more than that—the Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN International) has taken substantive action, granting an emergency aid package of 1 million euros to help support the work of the Church in Ukraine.
“ACN has supported the Church in Ukraine during the past and it will not abandon her at this very critical and difficult time,” Thomas Heine-Geldern, the Executive President of ACN said, adding:
We wish to assure our prayers for the people of Ukraine that through the intercession of Our Lady of Peace, they may be spared the pain of further violence and loss of life.
The generous financial aid package will go to prelates, priests, and laity so as to ensure parish operations continue uninterrupted, keeping orphanages, refugee shelters, and homes for the elderly staffed and operational amid the chaos and destruction, which shows no signs of letting up anytime soon.
For over 70 years, ACN International, which is recognized as a Pontifical Foundation, has provided the Church with the means to support suffering, oppressed, and persecuted Christians, wherever, and whenever. Arguably, ACN International has done more than any Christian charity to assist the more than 200 million Christians—one in eight worldwide—living in countries where they face extreme persecution, and even death, for their faith.
Recipients of the robust aid package will include 4,879 priests and religious brothers as well as 1,350 religious sisters, all of whom are located in Ukraine, so they can continue on with their pastoral and outreach programs. Additionally, the charity’s financial support will be dispersed to four Greek-Catholic exarchates and two Latin dioceses in Eastern Ukraine, covering the cities of Kharkiv, Zaporizhya, Donestk, Odesa, and Krym.
Bishop Pavlo Honcharuk, a Ukrainian Roman Catholic prelate who serves as a Diocesan bishop of the Kharkiv-Zaporizhia—one of the dioceses in Eastern Ukraine that ACN will support—says the situation is harrowing.
The situation is getting worse every day. We live now from hour to hour. Prices are rising, especially for essential goods. The situation in the diocese is very difficult. The number of faithful has decreased and those remaining, unfortunately, cannot maintain the parishes or support the priests. They come themselves and ask for help from the priests and sisters.
“This conflict is also a psychological war. People need consolation, strength, and support. The immediate emergency grant by ACN, in addition to its current support, will strengthen the Catholic Church in Ukraine in its commitment to stay on the ground and keep serving its flock in the face of military and economic war,” Bishop Pavlo Honcharuk added.
Despite constant mortar and artillery fire, perpetual airstrikes, heavily armed foreign troops walking the streets, and the continual prospect of death, leading bishops across the country have called on members of the clergy to remain in Ukraine.