I want to bring with me to France the pain but also the strength and energy of Ukraine, — Archbishop Éric de Moulins-Beaufort

September 19, 2022, 22:00 4

In his speech, delivered on September 18, 2022, at the Kyiv Three Saints Theological Seminary at the end of the Liturgy, the Chairman of the Conference of Bishops of France, Archbishop Éric de Moulin-Beaufort, spoke about the purpose of his visit to Ukraine, assured the Ukrainian people of the support of French Catholics, and expressed admiration for His Beatitude Sviatoslav for his daily military appeals, which “form the spirituality of wartime.”

I want to bring with me to France the pain but also the strength and energy of Ukraine, — Archbishop Éric de Moulins-Beaufort
Архиєпископ Ерік де Мулен-Бофор, Голова Конференції єпископів Франції

Brothers and sisters!

It is my honor and joy to be here with you in the Patriarchal Seminary and to pray together. On this Sunday, when we witnessed the ordination, I came with the secretary of the French Bishops’ Conference to express to you, on behalf of all the bishops and Catholics of France, our fraternity and desire to share your pains with you, as well as to express our admiration for the strength of the Ukrainian people, with which they fight against the enemy, their will and desire to live in freedom, relative comfort that exists in western society.

We can forget or lose what unites us. We risk forgetting how valuable it is to be able to build a nation and help each other in a friendly manner and how important it is to be open to all people.

I assure you that since February 24, we have been praying for Ukraine every Sunday in all the churches of France. We ask God to give you peace, peace in justice, and truth, not the peace that the attackers want to impose on you. It is a condition of brotherhood and friendship between people.

This journey is vital to me. Watching the news on television and reading it in newspapers and magazines, we understand what is happening in a completely different way than when we have the opportunity to meet people whose body and the war has touched our soul. Therefore, it is crucial to see the destruction with my own eyes, understand the geography of the war and the drama that could have been even greater, and rejoice with you in the successes of your Armed Forces.

Participating in your Liturgy, I admire the fact that you prayed for your army several times. It is not the case in Latin Liturgy. We pray for our leaders, as you do and as the holy apostle Paul asks, but we do not think of praying for the army. It probably comes from the troubled times when the people were at war. It is essential to pray for the army to drive out the enemies and, simultaneously, for it to behave justly. I think that this liturgical prayer takes on a new meaning for you today. During prayer in the seminary and ordinations, I felt that we, Christians, should first of all be a spiritual army. It is imperative to fight against our attacker who wants to destroy us, who attacks innocent and poor people, as we see in the liberated territories after the occupation. As a bishop, I believe we need to pray, so that hatred of the aggressor does not turn into long-term anger towards others. It is necessary to form a prayer army that would help us fight against evil so that it does not settle in us permanently and does not prevent us from enjoying freedom, justice, and truth. You are fighting for the freedom of your country but know: we are aware that you are also fighting for us. You are fighting for a bright idea of ​​what a nation is and what relations between peoples in Europe can be.

I am grateful to His Beatitude Sviatoslav for the invitation. I expressed to him my admiration for the kind words he speaks to his people every day. These speeches are translated daily into French. I think many people in France read them. I look at this teaching, which forms the spirituality of wartime — how to conduct war, being disciples of Jesus Christ. We did not have such instruction on the European continent, which often experienced wars. I sincerely thank God that His Beatitude Sviatoslav brings it to us. I would also like to thank His Excellency, Bishop Hlib, who came with me from Paris. For several years, he heads the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church diocese in France. I thank him for the fact that there is friendship and trust between him and the bishops of France.

Today, in the afternoon, we will visit Bucha and Irpin and see traces of harrowing moments. I want to bring to France the pain I feel here and, at the same time, the strength and energy present in your country. Be sure in the prayer of the Catholics of France!

May God bless Ukraine and allow it to share its wealth with Europe and the world!

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