Friday, May 20, 2022

Archbishop Gallagher on the determination of the Ukranian people


Archbishop Gallagher before the photographs of the Bucha massacre in the crypt of the Orthodox Church of St. AndrewArchbishop Gallagher before the photographs of the Bucha massacre in the crypt of the Orthodox Church of St. Andrew 

Archbishop Gallagher: 'Ukrainians already trying to rebuild better than before'

The Vatican's Secretary for Relations with States, Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, speaks to Vatican News about the "terrifying experience“ of visiting the city of Bucha in Ukraine, the site of alleged Russian war crimes against civilians, and about the determination of the Ukrainian people to rebuild their country better than before.

By Linda Bordoni & Stefano Leszczynski

“Going to Bucha today was a really terrifying experience, because not only do you see things, but you imagine things.”

Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, the Vatican Secretary for Relations with States, is visiting war-torn Ukraine to bring the closeness of Pope Francis to the people and to promote dialogue and negotiation in order to end the war.

Speaking on Friday to Vatican Radio’s Stefano Leszczynski, who is travelling with him in Ukraine, the Archbishop recounted his feelings as he prayed before the site of a former mass grave in Bucha, where around a hundred defenseless Ukrainian civilians were tortured and “executed” as a Russian Brigade advanced towards Kyiv.

“You see the place where the bodies were buried. We saw the photographs in the crypt of the Orthodox Church,” Archbishop Gallagher said.

“And you see the great atrocities that people are capable of imposing upon others.”

Haunting memories

The Archbishop recalled that this is not the first time he has witnessed such horrors. ”I've seen it before. I myself assisted in Burundi at a terrible massacre of people. You can't forget these things, and you're horrified at the suffering that we can impose upon others, and humankind is capable of.”

“It'll take a long time to heal these wounds. It will take a long time to to find the grace of forgiveness and to work on a process of reconciliation.”

Archbishop Gallagher said, “It's only just beginning.”


Expressing his feelings of admiration for how the Ukrainian people, “despite all they suffered, all the setbacks that this war has brought them,” are trying to rebuild, the Archbishop said the spring season is poignantly accompanying them as they try “to clean up their country, their cities, their villages.”

“Now, you see in the in the woods and the forests, the shoots coming through, the trees going into leaf,” he said.

“You can see the determination of the people to rebuild and to make a success of their country as it was before, and even better than it was before this tragic war started.”

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