ROME — Ukrainian Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk continued his protest of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine Friday, condemning Russia’s thinly veiled threat to bomb a nuclear power plant.
“The whole world was shocked by the words of a Russian general that ‘that land, Zaporizhzhia, will either be Russian or turn into a radioactive desert,’” Archbishop Shevchuk said in a video message in reference to the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant (NPP), one of Europe’s largest nuclear power plants.
The archbishop expressed his thanks to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) for “stepping up efforts to demilitarize this Zaporizhzhia NPP.”
On Thursday, IEAE director Rafael Mariano Grossi described the situation as “a grave hour,” noting that the situation at Zaporizhzhia has been “deteriorating rapidly to the point of being very alarming.”
In Friday’s message, Shevchuk also thanked members of the United Nations organization who had stressed “the problem of nuclear terrorism.” The archbishop said:
It was a big shock for everyone how the representative of Russia reluctantly admitted that Russia is militarizing this nuclear power plant, but Russia refused to withdraw its troops from this zone. And yesterday, in one day, the nuclear power plant in Zaporizhzhia was shelled four times.
“I want to thank the representative of the Holy See at the UN for unambiguously and clearly condemning the Russian militarization of the peaceful atom in Ukraine and the creation of a threat to the whole of Europe and the world,” he declared.
“Let the voice of the Catholic Church, the voice of the Holy See be the voice of truth in such a difficult, modern world, which looks like a raging sea,” he said.
Marking 170 days since the invasion, he said that the Russian aggressor “came to our house to take away our right to life, to take away our right to live in our free, independent Ukrainian state.”
“And he brings us death, destruction, tears, and grief for the Ukrainian people,” he added.
In a special message to mothers who have been forced out of the country, the archbishop offered words of comfort but also counsel as to key principles in raising their children.
“Learn the Ukrainian language. Teach your children the true history of Ukraine, the stories of the suffering and struggle of our people,” Shevchuk said.
“Take care of the Christian upbringing of your children, because if you don’t give them true moral guidelines in your life, then all that you materially acquire for them will be quickly wasted,” he stated.
“And please, be active citizens of our homeland and responsible for the future of your children and our homeland. Look for work, get involved in the active life of local communities, and be sure that all of us, wherever you are, will only help you,” he pledged.