A woman passes by a gas station destroyed by a Russian military strike Oct. 26 as Russia’s attack on Ukraine continues. (CNS photo/Mykola Synelnykov, Reuters)

Ukrainian bishops call for solidarity fast

  • November 10, 2022

Canada’s Ukrainian Catholic bishops are asking all Catholics for prayers, charitable giving and three days of fasting Nov. 24 to 26 in solidarity with Ukrainians living with food shortages and facing days without heat, light or water as Russia continues to target civilian infrastructure, especially Ukraine’s power grid.

In a pastoral letter distributed through the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, Bishops Lawrence Huculak, David Motiuk and Bryan Bayda compare Russia’s attacks on civilian targets to Joseph Stalin’s 1932-33 scheme to starve Ukraine into submission — an event remembered by Ukrainians as the Holodomor, an internationally recognized genocide.

“To me it’s kind of a natural link,” Edmonton’s Eparchial Bishop David Motiuk told The Catholic Register. “1932-33 was a genocide. Again, a genocide in the making to say that the Ukrainian nation doesn’t exist.”

In February, as Russia’s invasion began, Vladimir Putin explicitly denied that Ukraine had ever had “real statehood.” He said Ukraine was an integral part of Russia’s “own history, culture, spiritual space.”

The first week of November, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky reported that 4.5 million Ukrainians, more than 10 per cent of the pre-war population, are without power because of Russian drone strikes on transformers and power stations. At the same time, the Russian military administration in occupied parts of Ukraine has begun a program of “mass forced relocation” of Ukrainians, Zelensky said.

“Let us pray for those who endure the war, who defend their country and nationhood, who live in fear and who have been forced to flee their homes,” Canada’s Ukrainian bishops wrote in their pastoral letter. “Let us pray for those who have died as a result of the war and for those who have died today and who will die tomorrow.”

The bishops list the Catholic Near East Welfare Association - Canada (CNEWA), Development and Peace - Caritas Canada, Aid to the Church in Need - Canada, Canadian Jesuits International and the Ukrainian Canadian Congress as trusted agencies for donations to Ukrainians who are enduring the war.

The three days of fasting in solidarity with Ukraine are timed to coincide with annual commemorations of the Holodomor in Canada.

“Fast as best you can. For some, that will mean only bread and water, for some no sweets, for others only one meal each day,” the bishops write. “However you choose to fast, unite your thoughts and prayers before the Lord for peace for the people of Ukraine.”

Fasting makes sense if you want to be in solidarity with people who are hungry, said Motiuk.

“There are people in Ukraine that are starving and really struggling to put food on the table.” 

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