If you have turned on a news channel this week, in between stories about Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer retiring and reporting on the surge in illegal immigration, you’ve likely seen story after story about the impending Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The conflict between Russia and Ukraine is complicated and has been years in the making.

One of the main causes of the current conflict was sparked by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s (NATO) 2008 Bucharest Summit, where the NATO governments agreed that Ukraine would also become a member.

“NATO welcomes Ukraine’s and Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic aspirations for membership in NATO.  We agreed today that these countries will become members of NATO,” the summit’s final declaration reads.

This has been viewed as something of a “red line” for Russia. NATO’s influence has crept eastward in Europe over the past several decades as more eastern European nations joined the organization.

Both Georgia and Ukraine share borders with Russia, and NATO’s invitation of membership to the country of Georgia led to Russia’s invasion of the nation in 2008.

Now, the Ukrainian Catholic Bishops of the United States have written an appeal, warning about the dire consequences the people of Ukraine face due to the potential invasion.

The signatories include Archbishop Borys Gudziak, Eparchs Paul Chomnycky, Benedict Aleksiychuck and Bohdan Danylo along with Auxiliary Bishop Andriy Rabiy.

The Ukrainian Catholic Church is an eastern rite in full communion with the rest of the worldwide Catholic Church, with bishops and lay members in Ukraine, the United States, Canada and Poland.

“During the Christmas season, some 100,000 Russian troops have been positioned on three sides of Ukraine: a nascent democracy, a country on a pilgrimage to freedom and dignity from the fear of a totalitarian past in which 15 million people were killed on Ukrainian territory,” the bishops penned.

“After eight years of war initiated by Russia, Ukraine has lost a substantial part of its territory. 14,000 people, including children, have been killed, 1.5 million have been internally displaced, several hundred thousand agonize near the frontline, and millions suffer from post-traumatic stress. There are 400,000 traumatized Ukrainian veterans of the Russian war and thousands who have lost their loved-ones.

“How long will this continue? How many more shattered families, destitute widows and orphans, grieving parents and grandparents? How many more destroyed churches, mosques, and synagogues, schools and hospitals, roads and bridges, homes and apartment buildings, factories and airports? How many more homeless, jobless, and impoverished millions forced to flee their country?

“How much more mindless, devastating pillaging by foreign-controlled organized crime? How many more devious, paralyzing international cyberattacks? How much more torment of freedom loving citizens and torture of prisoners seized by terrorists? When will this stop?!”

The bishops added:

“The war in Ukraine is real. It kills, maims, and destroys daily. An escalated Russian invasion will generate additional millions of refugees, more dead and injured, more tears and pain.”

The bishops then urged readers to do three things:

  1.  Pray.
  2. Be informed.
  3. Support.

The bishops conclude their letter by quoting from the Psalms.

Give ear to my prayer, O God;

And hide not thyself from my supplication…

I am distraught by the noise of the enemy,

Because of the oppression of the wicked…

But I will trust in thee. (Ps. 55, 1,2-3; 23)

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