National News Head of Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk, visits Adelaide and blames bloodshed on Russia
The global head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, visiting Adelaide today, says his country is suffering under an illegal Russian invasion, not a civil war.
Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk has met with Archbishop Philip Wilson and the local Ukrainian Catholic community as part of a national tour.
Archbishop Shevchuk has been criticised by the Russian Orthodox Church for playing a political role in the conflict, but he said his mission was simply to spread the truth about what was really happening in the Ukraine.
“Ukraine is under aggression and under direct attack of our neighbour. There is real bloodshed in Ukraine. We have more than half a million refugees. Four thousand civilians have been killed,” he said.
“If somebody will go to your house and kill your children, the statement that they are killing your children is not a political one.
“We are talking about bloodshed, and the church has called out to protect human life and dignity.”
Archbishop Shevchuk said Russian invaders and separatist “terrorists” had no legal basis for their attempts to divide the country.
“It is illegal to have Ukraine split according to international law. It is an independent, sovereign country with boundaries recognised by the international community. To split or divide Ukraine is a crime.”
The idea that Ukraine was undergoing a civil war was a falsehood “projected by Russia”.
“First of all we have to stay together against the war of misinformation,” he said.
Archbishop Shevchuk said many churches and religious leaders of all faiths in Ukraine, including the Orthodox Church there, were united in their stance against violence.
“We are working and serving together, first of all to stop violence, to mediate, to find a peaceful solution, to reconcile the people,” he said.
“But very often the Russian Orthodox Church in Russia will be under the influence of Russian government propaganda.”
He also conveyed his “sorrow and condolences” to the almost 300 victims of the Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 “killed by Russian terrorists in the east of Ukraine” in July.
“People in Ukraine have deep respect for those victims,” he said.
Archbishop Shevchuk had lunch with Archbishop Wilson today and will hold a service and talks with the Ukrainian community tonight before heading to Canberra on the next leg of his tour.
“We have a large and vibrant parish here in Adelaide,” he said, adding Adelaide parishioners
comprised at least a tenth of the 35,000 Ukrainian Greek Catholics across Australia.
The church is the biggest Eastern Catholic Church in the world with more than 5.5 million faithful.