Nuncio Gullickson: Russian Actions Destabilize Ukraine, Harm Catholic Church

25 September 2014, 14:48 | Apostolic Nunciatura | 1 |   | Code for Blog |  | 

Archbishop Thomas Edward Gullickson, the apostolic nuncio in Ukraine, offered a candid appraisal of the difficulties facing the Church in that country in a September 23 address to officials of the international charity, Aid to the Church in Need (ACN).

Archbishop Gullickson said that Ukraine today suffers from “destabilization, much of it attributable to the depredation carried out and still continuing at the hands of Ukraine’s own criminal oligarchy, exacerbated by Russian aggression against its territorial integrity and sovereignty.” In an overall of the crisis, he said:

The undeclared war which the Russian Federation is waging against Ukraine has in effect destabilized a country already sorely tried by the depredation of homegrown and foreign profiteers (not only from Russia), who have torn its economic and social fabric limb from limb especially in the period since independence in 1991. Above and beyond this, Ukraine is just now coming around to playing catch-up in addressing the repair or removal of structures of servitude from its Soviet Communist past, which other countries in Central and Eastern Europe were able to address and at least begin to change almost immediately after the fall of the Berlin Wall.

The archbishop said that Catholic churches have been badly damaged in recent fighting, and even after the violence ends there will be heavy costs to rebuild and repair them. Catholic priests and religious have been driven out of some areas where Russian forces are active—particularly in Crimea—and it is questionable whether they will be allowed to return.

“If Russian aggression ended tomorrow, apart from rebuilding the east, Ukraine would still have enormous challenges to meet in order to root out corruption and establish a just society,” the Vatican representative said.

On a more positive note, Archbishop Gullickson remarked on the enormous growth of the Byzantine-rite Ukrainian Catholic Church since the fall of the Communist regime. “Since 1989,” he said, “the number of Greek-Catholic priests in Ukraine has climbed from around 300 to over 3,000.”


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  • Jean Pierre Chabot | 6 November 2014, 16:57
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    I would agree with the assessment of the Archbishop Thomas Edward Gullickson that Ukraine is "a country already sorely tried by the depredation of homegrown and foreign profiteers (not only from Russia), who have torn its economic and social fabric limb from limb especially in the period since independence in 1991." I cannot help but feel as though we (i.e. the international community) have basically allowed ourselves to get worked up (i.e. escalated risk) about problems that organized crime in Ukraine (Russian and Ukrainian organized crime) have instigated and are trying to raise to the level of inter-national and international conflict to deflect away from the true origins of the crisis; that is, state capture in Ukraine and Russia by organized criminal groups and mafia organizations. If elements of organized crime are allowed to change the focus of the crisis away from its criminal origins and divert the attention of the international community towards an cold war crisis, then we have lost the real battle and organized crime will have managed to "pull the wool over our eyes again". Real reform is the answer to the Ukrainian crisis. In order for real reform to take place, we need to keep our attention focused on the fight against corruption. I work with the Global Organization of Parliamentarians Against Corruption (GOPAC). We are tasked with assisting parliamentarians in discussing, designing, and passing legislation on anti-corruption measures. We take an cross-partisan approach to our work because anti-corruption should be a non-partisan issue. Organized crime in Ukraine should not be allowed to increase its state capture. We need to recognize when Ukrainian officials are speaking in the interests of citizens and when they are speaking in the interests of organized crime. The truth must be identified about the origins of the crisis in Ukraine.

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