ACN rushes aid package as war spreads in Ukraine
AID TO THE CHURCH IN NEED (ACN) HAS COMMITTED $1M IN IMMEDIATE EMERGENCY AID to support the work of the Church in Ukraine in helping victims of war.
“What we all wanted to avoid has happened: Ukraine is in a state of war. ACN has supported the Church in Ukraine in the past and it will not abandon her at this very critical and difficult time,” said Thomas Heine-Geldern, executive president of ACN.
In the early hours of February 24, the Russian government officially ordered the deployment of Russian forces in the Luhansk and Donetsk regions of Ukraine and soon after a broad military operation in Ukrainian territory. Pro-Russian separatists subsequently reported the capture of small towns in eastern Ukraine. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky announced that martial law was imposed across the whole country.
With the aggravation of the crisis, ACN commits its support with emergency aid to the 4,879 Catholic priests and brothers and 1,350 women religious in Ukraine, to enable them to continue their pastoral and outreach programs. Furthermore, ACN will provide emergency help for the four Greek-Catholic exarchates and the two Latin dioceses in Eastern Ukraine, covering Kharkiv, Zaporizhya, Donetsk, Odesa and Krym.
“Especially now, ACN has to ensure the presence of priests and sisters and brothers with their people, in the parishes, with the refugees, in the orphanages and homes for single mothers and for the elderly who will face the challenge of surviving in a climate of spiralling costs as a result of the war,” said Heine-Geldern.
Bishop Pavlo Honcharuk of Kharkiv, one of the dioceses in Eastern Ukraine that ACN will support, said: “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.”
With the emergency grant, ACN will support all the 57 priests and 54 religious men and women working in the diocese so that they can meet their own daily needs—gas, electricity, water, fuel, and food—and help others who have nothing.
The financial situation in the country has deteriorated since the beginning of the conflict, eight years ago, but since the crisis began in January, the national currency, the hryvna, has steadily been devalued, and continued to decline after Russia recognized the two breakaway regions led by pro-Russian separatists.
“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.”
“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,” said Heine-Geldern.