Archbishop Gallagher on Ukraine: God always with us, even amid horrors of war

At a special Mass commemorating the first anniversary of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the Vatican Secretary for Relations with States and International Organizations, Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, invites the faithful to read the last year’s tragic events in the light of the Word of God, and to pray to the Lord for the world “to walk again on paths of peace”.
Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, who is based in Liverpool, presided over a special Mass on Tuesday for the first anniversary of the outbreak of the war in Ukraine, 24th February.

The Liturgy which took place in the Roman Basilica of Sant’Andrew della Valle, was concelebrated by the Apostolic Exarch for the Ukrainian Catholic faithful of the Byzantine Rite residing in Italy, Bishop Dionisio Lachovicz, the clergy of the Exarchate along with Ukrainian religious and Latin rite priests.

Pain and bewilderment

Introducing his homily, the Secretary for Relations with States and International Organizations, highlighted the feelings of “deep pain and bewilderment” in the face of another war in the heart of Europe which, he said, “seems impossible in the 21st century”.

Reading the war through the eyes of the Word of God 

Archbishop Gallagher stressed the need to look at the ongoing conflict and the heavy toll it’s taking, not “in the light of the increasingly alarming news arriving from the front” in the perspective of ever-changing  military and political scenarios, nor of the diplomatic efforts “which still seem unable to break the vicious circle of violence”  but, instead, through the eyes of the Word of God, which “is always timely”, gives an illuminating insight into every event in history, and indicates “the right path in all situations of life”.

God is always with us in times of trial

God, recalled the Vatican Archbishop, allows trials and tribulations “not to destroy us, but to make us more valiant; not to abandon us, but to unite us more closely to Him”. Therefore, in trial “we must not separate ourselves from God, nor be discouraged or afraid, nor stop seeking justice, but trust in the Lord and do good”.

We are called to “remain faithful to His will and confide in His presence and His help”, because as the Bible says, “the Lord loves the just and will not forsake His faithful ones; He is their stronghold in time of trouble”.

In the homily Archbishop Gallagher further recalled “the certainty that God is always with us and that no tear or drop of blood is lost”. We should therefore learn from Christ “to forgive not on Easter Day, but when we are on the cross”, never forgetting that “the only real reason for power is to serve the good of everyone and that it must not close the heart, but open it, it must not exclude but welcome.”

Praying to the Lord for “the conversion of hearts” 

Closing the  homily, the Secretary for Relations with States and International Organisations asked to pray to the Lord for “the conversion of hearts” so that the world can “walk again on paths of peace”, and to entrust “the beloved Ukraine and its dear people” to the intercession of the Virgin Mary  with the “Prayer” of Ukrainian poet Taras Shevchenko.

“Send to the heads and hands that toil amain Upon this earth, so looted and despoiled, The impulse of your strength! Vouchsafe to me, O God, upon this earth, The gift of love, that pleasant paradise, And nothing else beside!”