by Andriy Chirovsky
"In the short period between the Havana Declaration and the Ukrainian bishops’ meeting with the pope, the new papal ambassador to Ukraine, Archbishop Claudio Guggerotti, was savvy enough to visit the front lines in Eastern Ukraine and report back to the pope, together with extensive video footage of the devastation.
This, of course, struck a chord with Pope Francis, who insistently calls the Church to solidarity with the poor and suffering in the world. He listened intently to the reports of the Permanent Synod of the UGCC and informed them that he had watched Guggerotti’s video in preparation for the meeting. He wanted to do something.
Francis is a master of gestures. His oral interventions and even his texts leave many bewildered at times, but his gestures come across clearly.
By now, the war in Ukraine had been forgotten by Europe. The invasion, which was occasioned by the Maidan “Revolution of Dignity” with it’s clear choice of Europe over Russia, had slipped from the headlines. In Ukraine people were dying for their pro-European choice, and Europe seemed unconcerned.
So the bishops of the UGCC under the leadership of their patriarch and Bishop Borys Gudziak, who heads their Department of External Affairs, devised a plan that would not only address the suffering but also bring Ukraine back into the news and into the imaginations of Europeans. Together with Pope Francis they came up with a grand gesture: a collection in all the Catholic Churches of Europe to aid in the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine caused by the ongoing war."