Posted by: Fr Chris | January 30, 2014

Ukraine on the brink of civil war? And the War in Syria

Glory to Jesus Christ!

Former President Leonid Kravchuk made the title remark about the possiblity of civil war in his dramatic speech in the Rada, asking the members to repeal the laws which so sharply limited dissent and protest – which they did.

The situation in Ukraine changes rapidly.  The Greek Catholic Church continues its ministry, but the spokesman for the Russian Orthodox Patriarchate has suggested that Russian force might be necessary to save Ukraine from a ‘new horde’, equating the pro-Europe demonstrators with the Golden Horde of the Mongols who devastated Ukraine in 1240! Go to

Ukraine is a deeply religious country, and that is reflected in Maidan where the Greek Catholic clergy are joined by different Orthodox and also Protestants.  One street leading into Maidan is called Lutheran Street as that church – recently returned to a small congregation – stands there, and the pastor has been active in calling for non-violent responses from both sides.  Baptists have been eloquent in their sermons.  President Yanukovich himself is an active Orthodox believer and attends a parish that belongs to the Moscow Patriarchate. The UOC-MP (Ukrainian Orthodox Moscow Patriarchate), the largest Church in Ukraine, has parishioners in the west, north and center who are Ukrainian-speaking and Europe-oriented, while the parishes in the east and south are Russian-speaking and not too sure about living in an independent Ukraine. The bishops in those regions have generally been quiet and sitting it out, and  Metropolitan Vladimir himself is dying of cancer and unable to lead. So some clergy speak out in favor of the government, others support Maidan. 

Russia is putting new pressure on Ukraine with sudden imposition of controls at border crossings and holding back on the first payments of the $15 million dollar loan.,0,6792833.story            

There has been progress on the political front with the repeal of those laws, but talks are stumped on the issue of amnesty. There are 218 political prisoners now, and other people have been kidnapped by police. Amnesty would be given to all,  on the condition that the protesters go home – an impossible demand, because then the government would have no incentive for more change! Violence continues on the part of the state, and it is an open question as to how long the great majority of protesters can keep their people non-violent.  And protests have spread to almost the whole country.  

More Americans know about Justin Bieber’s problems than what is happening in Ukraine. But if Russia moves against Ukraine, if Putin continues to put pressure on the country, we had better know the situation on the ground. The Catholic Churches have been heroic, especially Major Archbishop Sviatoslav, the young leader of perhaps ten million Ukrainian Greek-Catholics on four continents, and American-born Bishop Borys Gudziak, bishop of France and the Benelux countries. A free and democratic Ukraine will weaken Moscow’s drive to restore the Soviet empire and bolster the cause of freedom.  A return of dictatorship and repression will be disastrous for Europe, and for world peace. May the Prince of Peace rule in the hearts of the leaders involved,

and may progress be made under the shadow of the Cross, not the Kremlin. 

As for poor Syria, no progress in the talks in elegant Geneva. The Syrians blocked delivery of aid to 3,000 trapped civilians in Homs, a tactic that some rebels are now using against pro-government civilians similarly trapped. And the bombings continue, the Islamist versus Syrian Free Army infighting continues, starvation and death continue, and Christians worry about their future in the land where Christians got their name.  The Pope’s words and prayers are truly falling on deaf ears.  May there be a positive turnaround soon, and may the warfare end. Please encourage others to pray for Ukraine and Syria, and an end to all the fighting that is taking place around the globe. Jesus came to bring peace, and 2,000 years later, we are still in need of it. Holy Spirit, may the hearts of leaders be opened to Your promptings! 


  1. Amen

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