Cardinal Pell Condemns ‘Illegal and Ferocious Russian Invasion’ in Letter to Ukrainian Catholic Leader

Pope Francis has appealed for a worldwide day of prayer and fasting for peace in Ukraine on Ash Wednesday, March 2.

Cardinal George Pell gives an interview to EWTN News in Rome, Italy, on Dec. 9, 2020.
Cardinal George Pell gives an interview to EWTN News in Rome, Italy, on Dec. 9, 2020. (photo: Credit: Daniel Ibáñez/CNA / EWTN)

VATICAN CITY — Cardinal George Pell condemned the “illegal and ferocious Russian invasion” of Ukraine on Monday in a letter to the leader of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church.

In the Feb. 28 letter to Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk, the former Vatican economy czar said he regretted the “absence of support” for Ukrainians. 

“With these few words and the promise of my prayers, I write to express my support for you and all your people, and indeed all the people of Ukraine, at the time of this illegal and ferocious Russian invasion,” he said.

“I join in your protests against this injustice, and I also regret the absence of support for you all in your suffering.”

The 80-year-old Australian cardinal, currently based in Rome, is one of the world’s most prominent Catholic churchmen. He was the archbishop of Sydney from 2001 to 2014, the first prefect of the Vatican Secretariat for the Economy from 2014 and 2019, and a member of Pope Francis’ Council of Cardinals from 2013 to 2018.

Since Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a full-scale invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24, Archbishop Shevchuk has issued daily messages from Kyiv, where he is sheltering with others under the Greek Catholic Cathedral of the Resurrection as Russian forces close in on the city of almost three million people.

The 51-year-old major archbishop has led the world’s more than four million Ukrainian Greek Catholics since 2011. The majority of his flock lives in Ukraine, a predominantly Orthodox Christian country in Eastern Europe with a population of 44 million people.

Pope Francis has appealed for a worldwide day of prayer and fasting for peace in Ukraine on Ash Wednesday, March 2.

Concluding his letter, Cardinal Pell wrote that he and Archbishop Shevchuk were “United by our faith in Christ the Lord, by our love of Mary the mother of God, and by our fraternity in Our Holy Mother the Catholic Church.”

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