Shevchuk: Russian attack on Kyiv children's hospital 'a sin that cries out to heaven for revenge'

(OSV News) -- A July 8 attack by Russia on a children's hospital and other civilian targets throughout Ukraine is "a sin that cries out to heaven for revenge," said the head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church.

At least 42 have been killed and some 190 injured as Russian bombers pummeled Ukraine's capital, Kyiv, and numerous cities throughout the nation with more than 40 missiles and guided aerial bombs.

Among the sites struck was the Okhmatdyt children's hospital in Kyiv, where two adults died and about 50 were injured, including seven children. The hospital, which is the largest children's medical facility in Ukraine, had just under 630 patients in its care at the time of the missile strike.

Lviv Mayor Andriy Sadovyi reported on his X (formerly Twitter) account that one of those adult victims was 30-year-old Svitlana Lukyanchuk, a Lviv-born pediatric nephrologist.

With rescue efforts ongoing, the casualty count is expected to rise. July 9 was declared a day of mourning in Kyiv.

Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk, head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, released a July 8 statement denouncing the strike.

"In the name of God, with all determination, we condemn this crime against humanity," he said. "This is not only a crime against human laws and rules, international rules that tell us about the customs and rules of warfare. According to Christian morality, this is a sin that cries out to heaven for revenge."

The strike -- part of Russian leader Vladimir Putin's ongoing war against Ukraine -- was "a cowardly act of a depraved man," said Metropolitan Archbishop Borys A. Gudziak of the Ukrainian Catholic Archeparchy of Philadelphia. "There are just no words."

Archbishop Gudziak -- who spoke to OSV News from an undisclosed location in Ukraine -- noted that the name of the attacked children's hospital means "protecting mothers and children" in Ukrainian.

Associated Press footage of the attack showed dozens of individuals digging through the rubble to free survivors, with bandaged hospital patients being carried in their mother's arms to shelter.

The Holy See press office released a statement expressing Pope Francis' expressed "great sorrow" over the attack.

The apostolic nuncio to Ukraine, Archbishop Visvaldas Kulbokas, told Vatican Radio shortly afterward that Russia's strike on the hospital had targeted "the smallest of the smallest, the weakest of the weak.

"Why does someone continue to provide explanations for the war as if it could be justified for some reason?" he asked. "I do not know how … consciences can continue to do so."

Ukraine President Volodmyr Zelenskyy called for an emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council in response to the strike on civilian infrastructure, which is prohibited under international humanitarian law.

Major Archbishop Shevchuk lamented that children who had come to the hospital for lifesaving treatment -- some of whom were in kidney surgery and other medical procedures -- "were mercilessly killed by Russian criminals."

His statement, posted to the website of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, included an image from Ukraine public broadcaster Suspilne showing a surviving patient of the children's hospital being carried in a woman's arms. The child was covered in blood and dust, with medical tubes and tapes dangling, as a blood-streaked medical professional looked on.

"We saw how the doctors saved lives even with bloodied faces," said the archbishop, adding that medical workers and volunteers were digging through the hospital's wreckage "to save even those children whose hearts are beating there under the rubble."

"Today we cry with all the victims," said Major Archbishop Shevchuk. "Today we want to pray for all the dead, especially innocently killed children. Today, we want to wrap our Christian love around all the wounded, all those who are currently hurting the most."

He concluded his statement with a prayer "for the protection and victory of the lives of our children and women.

"Merciful God, bless our long-suffering Ukrainian land with your just peace," said Major Archbishop Shevchuk.

Reached by telephone July 8, two staffers at the Russian Embassy in Washington declined to comment to OSV News about the attack, with one promising to "check with colleagues" in the embassy's press center regarding a possible statement, which OSV News has not yet received.

Two joint reports from the New Lines Institute and the Raoul Wallenberg Center for Human Rights have determined Russia's invasion -- which continues attacks launched in 2014 -- constitutes genocide, with Ukraine reporting more than 135,141 war crimes committed by Russia in Ukraine since February 2022.

During its recent meeting in Bucharest, Romania, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe Parliamentary Assembly adopted a resolution recognizing Russia's 10-year aggression against Ukraine as genocide.

- - - Gina Christian is a multimedia reporter for OSV News. Follow her on X (formerly Twitter) at @GinaJesseReina.