The Latin Archbishop of Lviv, Mrs. Mieczyslav Mokrzycki, together with the Auxiliary Bishop of Kharkiv, Mrs. Jan Sobilo, was received by Pope Francis on Thursday, November 17. He thanked the Holy Father for the “material and spiritual closeness” he continues to express to the “war-wounded” Ukrainian people.
Giancarlo La Vella – The Vatican
Since 2008, he has been announced as the Latin archbishop of the capital of Western Ukraine Radio Vatican-Vatican News the hardships of the Ukrainian population, who are about to experience a harsh winter – the temperatures are already negative – and above all, celebrating the first Christmas of the war.
What did you share with the Sovereign Pope?
It was my first meeting with the Pope since the start of the war. I want to thank him for his spiritual closeness, his daily prayers and his numerous interventions in Ukraine, his words against the war, his calls to the whole world to pray and show solidarity.
I also thank him for the financial assistance of Cardinal Konrad Krajewski, the Apostolic Chaplain, Bishop Richard Gallagher, Secretary of State Relations, and the Nuncio, who never spared us on his four trips.
The Holy Father is close to bishops and priests. He is trying to remind the whole world that peace will come soon, and he expressed his desire to come to Kiev and also to Moscow, because the Pope does not want to separate us, but wants these two countries to have friendly relations.
We are currently talking about the restoration of the occupied territories, but what is the situation of the civilian population?
It is a very sad situation because everyone is involved in a war that causes so much destruction and so much pain. Many soldiers and civilians lose their lives, many more are disabled. Many were left homeless due to the destruction of their houses. Fortunately, there is currently no shortage of food. The food situation is very difficult where there is bombing and where the conflict is raging, but with the help of the whole of Europe, as well as other countries, we are able to get food to where it is needed. We are very grateful for this solidarity.
How does the local church respond to the needs of people, especially in war zones?
The Church always acts in two ways: by proclaiming the gospel and also by charity. I am very surprised by our priests in Ukraine who show themselves as heroes, no one spares themselves, they work day and night. They gather so many volunteers to do good to those in need. We welcome many refugees in our pastoral centers and dioceses, especially those fleeing to save the lives of their relatives and children. We are also close to the elderly and sick.
Therefore, important work, especially with the approach of winter and its cold temperatures. How do you prepare for it?
We pray that this winter will not be so cold and thank God that there is no major crisis right now. There are several districts without electricity, but thanks to various institutions like Caritas, we have been able to buy stoves, generators to generate electricity, and we hope that we can withstand the coming cold.
You are about to experience the first Christmas of the war…
Yes, during this war, we are already past Easter and it hurts us that so many people could not celebrate the resurrection of the Lord, many did it in the ruins and destroyed areas.
Is the work of Vatican Radio important to you?
Yes, especially because it invites us to pray for peace and to be neighbors so that there is no separation between these two great countries: Ukraine and Russia.