Washington D.C., Jan 3, 2023 / 17:00 pm (CNA).
Archbishop Timothy Broglio, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and head of the Archdiocese for Military Services, USA, visited Ukraine Dec. 27–29 to express the American Catholic Church’s continued support.
Meeting with Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk, the head of the Ukrainian Catholic Church, and key leaders of the Ukrainian military chaplaincy in the cities of Kyiv and Lviv, Broglio offered messages of encouragement and solidarity.
“You may not see this in Ukraine, but today Ukrainians bring great hope to the world! Your nation has united and stood up to this unjust Russian invasion. In your resistance, we see hope for the future,” Broglio told Ukrainian officials, as reported by Ukrainian Catholic University.
In an interview with CNA after his return, Broglio talked about what he had witnessed.
“I was very grateful for the opportunity to visit; obviously it was very moving to see some of the destruction, particularly to stand in front of a hospital that had been destroyed, those kinds of things are incomprehensible,” he said.
“I also participated in the funeral of three Ukrainian soldiers that were killed during the war, and it’s an almost everyday experience for the people of the Garrison church, so I came back encouraged by the spirit of the people, depressed by the inhumanity they’ve experienced, and anxious to try to encourage Catholics in the United States certainly to pray for peace, to support them in any way that we can, and also to look forward to the future when the situation might be more positive,” Broglio told CNA.
While in Lviv, Broglio toured Ukrainian Catholic University and spoke with Ukrainian military chaplains, some of whom were just recently returned from the front lines.
As head of the Archdiocese of Military Services, USA, Broglio offered a unique perspective to Church leaders in war-torn Ukraine.
“We have to take care of the people who are currently fighting,” Broglio said. “When I became a chaplain in 2008, I realized that my mission was to serve the men and women affected by war.”
Broglio noted “a significant difference” between his ministry to U.S. soldiers fighting in faraway nations and ministry to Ukrainian soldiers fighting in their homeland.
“Unfortunately, the war is happening here, on your land. My visit is a visit of solidarity and support,” Broglio said.
In Kyiv, at the funeral of three young Ukrainian soldiers who were recently killed in the nation’s conflict against invading Russia, Broglio addressed the mourners.
“We are sincerely grateful to the defenders for the sacrifice they make for their country and for all of us,” Broglio said. “We pray peace reigns in Ukraine and other parts of the world.”
Speaking to the families of the fallen Ukrainian soldiers, Broglio said: “On behalf of all Catholics in the United States of America, I extend my sincere condolences. We must continue to live in hope.”
Broglio’s visit comes at a time when Russia is increasing missile strikes, which, according to Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy, are attempts to “exhaust” the nation’s defenses.
Back in the United States, Broglio told CNA that he has two messages he’d like to communicate to American Catholics.
“One, gratitude for the tremendous support that has come from the Catholic Church in the United States for Ukraine. The second message being one to encourage prayer for those people in this moment of great suffering, but also to know that there is a tremendous spirit there and a conviction that they are going to win. And so there’s great hope,” he said.
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