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Gallagher: I met a wounded and brave people, dialogue is needed for peace



Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, the Vatican’s Secretary for Relations with States, concludes his mission to Ukraine: “The Pope could still continue to play a very significant role in this conflict and its resolution. There are possibilites. We must be careful to avoid a new arms race in Europe and the world.”

By Stefano Leszczynski 

“The Ukrainian people are truly a wounded people and at the same time very courageous, very determined: we cannot overlook the great suffering of this great people… We must renew our commitment to resolve the conflict through diplomatic and political dialogue”. Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, now at the end of his mission in Ukraine, takes stock of the trip with Vatican News.

Speaking in Italian, Archbishop Gallagher describes the importance of the ecumenical spirit in rebuilding the peace of future Ukraine. He explains that at a time like this, in any country, “there is also the danger of rivalries beginning to grow, and resentment towards one another”. He explains that for this reason it is indispensable that everyone remain firmly determined to work “for the unity of the country, of the political body of the country, for the unity of Christians, the unity of the Catholic Church, the unity with other religions, to be able to take advantage of the spiritual resources, of the grace that God grants in these moments, and not dissipate these things in difficulties, in quarrels”. 

Archbishop Gallagher then speaks of the courage of an Orthodox preist he met in Bucha, “who recounts those terrible days, when there were corpses everywhere and he asked that they be buried”. We can see that in the end, perhaps, in some places things are a little better these days, “but the wounds remain and even we in our small way, we come, we try to talk to them, to show empathy towards their suffering, a gesture of support, a gesture of encouragement”. However, Archbishop Gallagher stresses that this “in my opinion is not something we humans can do alone. Truly when we are in need, we absolutely feel the need for the encounter with Christ who heals our wounds. In a certain sense, Ukraine must walk a little like Mary Magdalene in the garden to encounter the risen Christ. Only this can dry the tears of this people. I am convinced that when you see these people there is great human solidarity, but there is also great faith. I am convinced that the people, through deepening their faith, regardless of their traditions – Catholic, Orthodox, Protestant, Jewish and other religions – can come to the resurrection, even at this Easter time”.

Comment of Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher at the conclusion of mission to Ukraine

Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher: As this mission draws to a conclusion today, I’d like to really express my thanks, above all, to God who’s been with us I think in every step. And also to everybody who’s facilitated it. Civil authorities, both in Poland and in the Ukraine, the Church authorities who’ve been so hospitable and who’ve enabled us to meet with them and to talk very frankly. We’ve been received with great pleasure. I would say we kept our promise. I promised Minister Kuleba I would come. We came and we’ve talked, and we will continue to talk. Ukraine at this moment has many needs.

For much of these needs, the churches have helped enormously. I’ve heard great praise for Caritas, great praise for what the diocese and the parishes and the bishops have done, both Greek Catholics and Latin Catholics here. So that’s something to be very, very proud of. And there’s also been great recognition of the great work done by Poland and their extraordinary generosity, both in receiving refugees and in sending humanitarian aid to the Ukraine. But we need to move forward, that sustaining of Ukraine needs to continue. We need to help them. We need to encourage them. We need to help them to always remain optimistic and faithful. We need to make every effort that in the conduct of this conflict, that the values of this people that are profoundly Christian should prevail over anything which might be more negative or more conflictual.

There’s going to be a lot of work to be done for probably many years in rebuilding the society. And this is a society which is going to have to really foster its unity at every level, the Church level, the political level, in terms of governance and in terms of renewing its industry. The world has great need for the Ukraine. We need that they can share their grain and their sunflower oil with us and all these things. And we need to work together so that also all the fallout from this terrible conflict in terms of the various crises which we’re facing as the economic crisis, the food crisis, the supply chain crisis, all of these things which we read about and hear about constantly, so that in our work with Ukraine, we can we can also embrace the greater good of humanity, which is really threatened at this time. 

Listen to Archbishop Gallagher



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