Catholics throughout the United States continue to look for ways to express their solidarity with the Ukrainian people as the war grinds on into its second week.
In the nation’s capital, Cardinal Wilton Gregory was joined by Ukrainian Archbishop Borys Gudziak of the Ukrainian Catholic Archeparchy of Philadelphia for Ash Wednesday Mass at the Cathedral of St Matthew the Apostle. After the service, the two answered questions from the press during an impromptu press conference in the St Anthony chapel of the cathedral.
“Our Ukrainian brothers and sister should be uppermost in our prayers and in our actions during this entire season of Lent,” the cardinal said in his homily.
Speaking to the press, Gudziak said, “It’s going to be a special Lent. ... [Lent] is a pilgrimage to Easter, and it ends with the Resurrection.” He added: “But there is a crucifixion, and that’s what Ukraine is enduring right now. We thank everybody – the cardinal, the president, the country, all people of goodwill, for the solidarity right now.”
Gregory explained that he had been to the White House that morning to impose ashes on President Joe Biden and the president’s sister, Valerie Biden Owens. “We obviously spoke about the violence in Ukraine, and our desire that a diplomatic solution will be accomplished to bring peace to the people there and to end the carnage,” the cardinal said.
Eric LeCompte, executive director of JubileeUSA, a Catholic non-profit organisation that seeks to reduce the sovereign debt of developing nations, called on international financial institutions to restructure Ukraine’s estimated $94.7 billion debt. “In terms of reality, Ukraine is going to start defaulting on its various debt payments as soon as this year,” LeCompte said.
LeCompte said that Ukraine has remained current with its debt payments until now, but that the chaos created by the war will make it difficult for the country to meet its obligations. LeCompte indicated that $22 billion of Ukraine’s debt is held by international institutions like the World Bank and International Monetary Fund.
Bishop David Malloy, chairman of the bishops’ conference Committee on International Justice and Peace, called on all Americans to help address the humanitarian crisis unfolding in Ukraine. “I encourage everyone to give generously to organisations such as Catholic Relief Services and USCCB’s Collection for the Church in Central and Eastern Europe that are bringing tangible relief and the hope of Christ to those in need,” Malloy added.