Ukrainian archbishop: Minority faiths at risk if Russia wins

Mar 31, 2022, 2:21 AM | Updated: 2:46 pm
FILE - The Most Rev. Borys Gudziak, metropolitan archbishop of the Ukrainian Catholic Church in Phi...

FILE - The Most Rev. Borys Gudziak, metropolitan archbishop of the Ukrainian Catholic Church in Philadelphia for the United States, speaks at the National Press Club in Washington, Tuesday, March 15, 2022. On Thursday, March 31, 2022, Gudziak, the top-ranking Ukrainian Catholic prelate in the United States, said religious minorities will be “crushed” if Russia gains control of Ukraine. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta, File)

(AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta, File)

The top-ranking Ukrainian Catholic cleric in the United States warned Thursday that religious minorities in the Eastern European country stand to be “crushed” if Moscow gains control, as fighting raged on more than a month after the Russian invasion began.

Groups at risk include Catholics, Muslims and Orthodox who have broken away from the patriarch of Moscow, Archbishop Borys Gudziak said. He also cited reports that Russian forces have damaged two Holocaust memorials and Moscow’s false portrayal of Ukraine, which overwhelmingly elected a Jewish president in Volodymyr Zelenskyy, as a “Nazi” state.

“What is at stake for the people of faith is their freedom to practice their faith,” Gudziak said during an online panel discussion on the war, hosted by the Initiative on Catholic Social Thought and Public Life at Georgetown University.

“Ukrainian Catholics, over the last 250 years, every time there’s been a Russian occupation where they live and minister, they’ve been strangled,” he continued.

Gudziak is head of the Ukrainian Catholic Archeparchy of Philadelphia and president of Ukrainian Catholic University in Lviv, Ukraine. He also oversees external relations for the Kyiv-based Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church. The name of the church, whose members account for an estimated 10% of Ukraine’s population, refers to its loyalty to the pope and its use of Greek or Byzantine liturgy, which is similar to that of Ukraine’s majority Orthodox population.

The archbishop predicted that the Orthodox Church of Ukraine — which broke from the Moscow Patriarchate and was recognized in 2019 by the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople over fierce opposition from Moscow — “will undoubtedly be crushed if there’s a Russian occupation.”

Guziak did not specifically mention the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, which is separate from the Orthodox Church of Ukraine and has remained loyal to Moscow Patriarch Kirill, a strong supporter of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Despite that historic fealty, Ukrainian Orthodox Church leaders have fiercely denounced the Russian invasion and in some cases are refusing to mention Kirill’s name in public prayers, a ritually potent snub.

Kirill has backed Putin’s justifications for the war, saying both countries are part of a “Russian world” and alleging that the U.S. and other foreign forces have sought to foster enmity between them.

Gudziak also cited the plight of Muslim Tatars who “have been persecuted for these last eight years” since Russia annexed the Crimean Peninsula in southern Ukraine in 2014.

The U.S. State Department has similarly denounced intimidation and harassment of Tatars and other religious groups in Crimea and areas of eastern Ukraine under control of Russia-backed separatists. The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom said this month that Moscow’s “aggression toward religious freedom (in those territories) is an indicator that much worse will follow … as Russia expands into Ukraine.”

Gudziak rejected Russia’s claims that it is on a mission to denazify Ukraine, where the Jewish Zelenskyy won election with 73% of the vote. Such altruistic assertions also ring hollow, he argued, given the reported damage to the Holocaust memorials in Kyiv and near Kharkiv.

“All those who desire to live in freedom will lose a lot or everything. If there is an occupation, that is what is at stake for Ukrainians,” Gudziak said. “What is at stake for Europe, for the broader world, is will there be an advance of systems, ideologies and worldviews that crush people?”


Associated Press religion coverage receives support through the AP’s collaboration with The Conversation US, with funding from Lilly Endowment Inc. The AP is solely responsible for this content.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


File - Credit cards as seen July 1, 2021, in Orlando, Fla. A low credit score can hurt your ability...
Associated Press

What the Fed rate increase means for your credit card bill

The Federal Reserve raised its key rate by another quarter point Wednesday, bringing it to the highest level in 15 years as part of an ongoing effort to ease inflation by making borrowing more expensive.
1 day ago
police lights distracted drivers shooting...
Associated Press

Authorities: Missing mom, daughter in Washington found dead

A missing Washington state woman and her daughter were found dead Wednesday, according to police.
1 day ago
Associated Press

Google’s artificially intelligent ‘Bard’ set for next stage

Google announced Tuesday it's allowing more people to interact with “ Bard,” the artificially intelligent chatbot the company is building to counter Microsoft's early lead in a pivotal battleground of technology.
2 days ago
Evelyn Knapp, a supporter of former President Donald, waves to passersby outside of Trump's Mar-a-L...
Associated Press

Trump legal woes force another moment of choosing for GOP

From the moment he rode down the Trump Tower escalator to announce his first presidential campaign, a searing question has hung over the Republican Party: Is this the moment to break from Donald Trump?
3 days ago
FILE - The Silicon Valley Bank logo is seen at an open branch in Pasadena, Calif., on March 13, 202...
Associated Press

Army of lobbyists helped water down banking regulations

It seemed like a good idea at the time: Red-state Democrats facing grim reelection prospects would join forces with Republicans to slash bank regulations — demonstrating a willingness to work with President Donald Trump while bucking many in their party.
3 days ago
FILE - This Sept. 2015, photo provided by NOAA Fisheries shows an aerial view of adult female South...
Associated Press

Researchers: Inbreeding a big problem for endangered orcas

People have taken many steps in recent decades to help the Pacific Northwest's endangered killer whales, which have long suffered from starvation, pollution and the legacy of having many of their number captured for display in marine parks.
4 days ago

Sponsored Articles

SHIBA volunteer...

Volunteer to help people understand their Medicare options!

If you’re retired or getting ready to retire and looking for new ways to stay active, becoming a SHIBA volunteer could be for you!
safety from crime...

As crime increases, our safety measures must too

It's easy to be accused of fearmongering regarding crime, but Seattle residents might have good reason to be concerned for their safety.
Comcast Ready for Business Fund...
Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Ukrainian archbishop: Minority faiths at risk if Russia wins