Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP has thrown his support behind Australia’s Ukrainian community, assuring it of “constant prayers” for their besieged homeland, denouncing Russia’s president, promoting a humanitarian appeal and lighting St Mary’s Cathedral in blue and gold, the national colours.
The archbishop told members of the Ukrainian Catholic community last Sunday after joining their Divine Liturgy at St Andrew’s Church in Lidcombe that their homeland was fighting a “David and Goliath” battle with Russia but that it was also a “battle for the soul of humanity”.
“A brave, sovereign, peaceful, democratic country is being overrun by a rapacious, imperial power that aims to decapitate its peaceful neighbour and replace its democratically-elected government with a puppet regime,” he told the parishioners, civic and community leaders gathered for the Liturgy.
“[Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP] said there had been ‘constant prayers for peace in my cathedral, in all the parish churches of Sydney’.”
“As a result thousands are dying and millions being displaced.”
President Putin also “will not abide” the independence claimed by Ukrainian Catholics and most Ukrainian Orthodox from the Moscow patriarchate, the archbishop said, and that if religion has become a pretext for this war, “it must also be part of the solution”.
In keeping with Pope Francis’s call for prayers and fasting for an end to the war for the safety of people in Ukraine and Russia, the archbishop said there had been “constant prayers for peace in my cathedral, in all the parish churches of Sydney and around the country and the world, and indeed in other Christian churches and other faiths”.
The crisis was also essentially “a spiritual one, a battle for the soul of humanity, and only by the intervention of God, His Most Holy Mother, the martyrs and saints, will peace be restored.”
The archbishop concelebrated the liturgy with parish priest and vicar general of the eparchy Fr Simon Ckuj and a number of other clergy.
In the homily Fr Ckuj said it was vital that Christians follow the example of Our Lord’s forgiveness on the cross, and that this is only possible with hope and love.
“… a gift to the Archdiocese of Sydney by late Ukrainian Cardinal Josyf Slipyj, has been placed near the sanctuary to help people to pray for an end to the conflict.”
When we allow ourselves to hate an oppressor “we fall into the trap the evil one has set for us”, he said.
At St Mary’s Cathedral, a traditional icon of Our Lord, a gift to the Archdiocese of Sydney by late Ukrainian Cardinal Josyf Slipyj, has been placed near the sanctuary to help people to pray for an end to the conflict.
The archbishop has asked all parishes to pray for the end of the conflict and give generously to Caritas Australia’s emergency appeal for Ukraine.