The Holy See's first mission to Ukraine and to the borders where thousands of refugees fleeing the conflict are arriving took place from 7 to 11 March. Card. Czerny visited the border areas between Hungary and Ukraine; Card. Krajewski was in Poland and Ukraine. The two cardinals were sent directly by the Holy Father Francis as his representatives to bring solidarity and closeness to the needy, refugees and victims of the war.
The Holy See Press Office announced the two cardinals' commitment in a note dated 7 March.
Note from the Holy See Press Office
The Holy See has put itself at the service of achieving peace in Ukraine. In an extraordinary gesture, Pope Francis announced at the Angelus in St Peter’s Square on Sunday 6 March, that he has dispatched two Cardinals as expressions of the Church’s solidarity with the suffering Ukrainian people; Cardinal Konrad Krajewski, the Almoner, and Cardinal Michael Czerny, the Prefect ad interim of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development.
Cardinal Krajewski is on his way now (7 March) towards the Polish/Ukraine border, where he will visit refugees and volunteers in shelters and homes.
Cardinal Czerny will arrive in Hungary on Tuesday (8 March) to visit some reception centres for the migrants coming from Ukraine.
Both are directed to Ukraine and depending on the situation they intend to reach the Country in the coming days.
The Cardinals will bring aid to the needy and serve as “the presence not only of the Pope, but of all the Christian people who express solidarity with the people of Ukraine and say: ‘War is madness! Stop, please! Look at this cruelty!’ Rivers of blood and tears are flowing in Ukraine. It is not merely a ‘military operation’, but a war, which sows death, destruction and misery.”
Pope Francis declared, “The number of victims is increasing, as are the people fleeing, especially mothers and children. The need for humanitarian assistance in that troubled country is growing dramatically by the hour. I make a heartfelt appeal for humanitarian corridors to be genuinely secured, and for aid to be guaranteed and access facilitated to the besieged areas, in order to offer vital relief to our brothers and sisters oppressed by bombs and fear. I thank all those who are taking in refugees. Above all, I implore that the armed attacks cease and that negotiation - and common sense - prevail. And that international law be respected once again! “
This latest action by Pope Francis is meant to also call attention to the many similar situations throughout the world. As the Holy Father said on the previous Sunday, “With a heart broken by what is happening in Ukraine – let us not forget the wars in other parts of the world, such as Yemen, Syria, Ethiopia. I repeat: put down your weapons! God is with the peacemakers, not with those who use violence.” (Angelus, 27.02).
Cardinal Czerny will continue drawing the sad similarity between the Ukrainians’ sufferings and the protracted conflicts that no longer attract the world’s attention. In addition, he will raise concern that African and Asian residents in Ukraine, also suffering fear and displacement be allowed to seek refuge without discrimination. There are also worrisome reports of increasing activities of human trafficking and smuggling of migrants at the borders and in the neighboring countries. Since most of the people fleeing are believers, he will affirm that religious assistance should be offered to everyone, with sensitivity to ecumenical and interfaith differences. Finally, throughout the praiseworthy efforts to offer humanitarian responses and organize humanitarian corridors, there is great need for coordination, good organization and shared strategy, in order to embrace people’s sufferings and provide effective relief.