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Vatican Secretary of State Visits Ukraine with Pope Francis’ Message of Closeness

Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin meets with Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk at the Cathedral of the Resurrection of Christ in Kyiv on Sunday, July 21, 2024. | Credit: Secretariat of the Major Archbishop of the Ukrainian Catholic Church
Vatican Secretary of State Visits Ukraine with Pope Francis’ Message of Closeness

By Hannah Brockhaus

Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican Secretary of State, is visiting Ukraine for the first time since the Russian invasion began in 2022. His visit, taking place from July 19 to 24, began with a brief stop in Lviv before traveling to the southern port city of Odesa and the northern city of Berdychiv. In Berdychiv, he celebrated a Mass to conclude a pilgrimage of Latin-rite Ukrainian Catholics.

On the afternoon of July 21, Cardinal Parolin met with Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk, head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, at the Cathedral of the Resurrection of Christ in Kyiv. His visit also includes meetings with other religious and civil authorities, including Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin talks with Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk at the Cathedral of the Resurrection of Christ in Kyiv on Sunday, July 21, 2024. Credit: Secretariat of the Major Archbishop of the Ukrainian Catholic Church

“The message I brought from the pope is one of closeness,” Parolin said, according to Vatican News. He emphasized Pope Francis’ ongoing references to a “martyred Ukraine” and his deep participation in the pain and suffering of the Ukrainian people. Parolin conveyed the pope’s closeness personally, expressing Pope Francis’ desire to help find solutions to the conflict.

In Odesa, one of the hardest-hit cities since the war began, Parolin visited the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Cathedral. There, he met with lay Catholics, local clergy, government representatives, and members of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine. Parolin shared that he was bringing “the closeness, the presence, and the blessing of the Holy Father Francis,” who is closely following Ukraine’s situation with concern and pain.

“As Christians, we should not lose hope,” Parolin encouraged, expressing hope that “by the grace of the Lord, who can touch even the hardest hearts, a path to a just peace can be found.” He also visited the Greek-Catholic Parish of St. Michael and the Orthodox Cathedral of the Transfiguration in Odesa, which suffered damage from a Russian missile attack last year.

On Sunday, July 21, Parolin celebrated Mass at the Shrine of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Berdychiv, marking the conclusion of a pilgrimage by Latin-rite Catholics from the Diocese of Lviv. The Mass’s intention was for an immediate end to the ongoing war in Ukraine.

In his homily, delivered in Ukrainian by Lviv Auxiliary Bishop Edward Kawa, Parolin urged Ukrainian Catholics to “never lose trust and hope in God,” especially amidst the horrors of war and the massive destruction. He acknowledged the difficulty in maintaining faith in divine goodness during such trying times.

Parolin concluded his homily with a prayer to the Virgin Mary for a “peaceful and sure future,” asking for protection and relief for all affected by the conflict.

This story was first published by Catholic News Agency, EWTN Norways`s news partner and has been adapted by EWTN Norway

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