'The Catholic Church remembers Ukraine': Archbishop visits wounded soldiers

The president of the Council of the Bishops' Conferences of Europe met wounded Ukrainian soldiers and their families during a visit to Ukraine this week.

Archbishop Gintaras GruŠas of Vilnius, Lithuania, also encountered recently released prisoners among the injured soldiers, according to a press release from the office of the major archbishop of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church.

GruŠas "expressed heartfelt words of support and consolation to [the soldiers'] mothers and wives| and bestowed his blessing on the soldiers, who expressed their desire to return to fight in the Ukrainian army after they have recovered, the press release said.

The archbishop -- and serving president of the Council of the Bishops' Conferences of Europe (CCEE) -- is also the apostolic administrator of the Lithuanian military.

Before visiting Ukraine, he was in Przemy?l, Poland, nine miles from Ukraine's western border, for the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church's synod of bishops July 7-15.

The sui iuris Eastern Catholic Church of the Byzantine rite currently has around 51 bishops in its synod. They carry out pastoral service throughout the world, including in the U.S. and Ukraine.

As president of the CCEE, GruŠas addressed the assembly.

"The battle that rages in Ukraine reminds us of the truth which we profess, that the reality that surrounds us is both visible and invisible," he said. "It is so closely intertwined that we cannot always clearly separate these two realities."

Archbishop Gintaras GruŠas with an injured Ukrainian soldier. Photo courtesy of Father Andriy Zelensky.

The archbishop said: "The physical reality of the war is clearly seen, though it too tries to keep its atrocities and crimes hidden. Our moral teaching reminds us that each person and nation has the right of self-defense and there is a duty that in the sight of naked aggression, the world community must come to the aid of its neighbor under attack."

The CCEE has invited the bishops of Europe to pray for peace in Ukraine before the Blessed Sacrament on the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross on September 14, GruŠas said.

"We remain united in prayer. The Catholic Church of Europe remembers Ukraine in its prayers," he said.