International News

From Cemetery With War Dead, Cardinal Urges World Help Ukraine So ‘Nonsense of War’ Stops

Cardinal Konrad Krajewski, papal almoner, is seen in Ternopil, Ukraine, June 26, 2024, at the section of the local cemetery for Ukrainian soldeirs who died defending their country. Making his eighth trip to Ukraine, the cardinal donated an ambulance and medical supplies to a hospital in the country’s Ternopil region. (OSV News photo/courtesy Dicastery for the Service of Charity)

By Paulina Guzik

(OSV News) — In what he said was the most dramatic moment of his eight visits to Ukraine, Cardinal Konrad Krajewski, papal almoner, appealed from a Ternopil cemetery that the world needs to help Ukraine without further delays so that the “nonsense of war” stops.

Without mentioning Russia by name, he also said that for those who cause war, “if only someone will go down to his knees and ask for forgiveness, Jesus won’t be tired of our sins. He will forgive everything.”

Cardinal Krajewski arrived June 25 in the western city of Lviv, Ukraine, and on June 26, he left for Ternopil at dawn, as he recounted in a voice message sent to OSV News.

“I left for Ternopil at 4 a.m. to hand over the papal ambulance, and as the ambulance is a symbol of life, everyone cleared the way, and I arrived there very early,” he said.

Since the local pastor was still asleep, Cardinal Krajewski decided to visit a local cemetery.

“There is a section for soldiers, full of Ukrainian flags. So I started walking between the graves of young people, 20-, 23-, 35-year-olds. Buried two days ago, a week ago,” he recalled.

“I am in Ukraine for the eighth time and it just shocked me. How is it possible that they are fighting for two years, with the whole world watching and they still die? Everyone produces weapons, makes money on those weapons and Ukrainians still die,” he explained in dramatic tones in his message, noting that “a young pregnant woman came and stood there at the grave of her husband.”

“In my coat of arms I have an inscription: ‘misericordia,’ mercy, but I somehow couldn’t grasp that mercy today,” Cardinal Krajewski continued. “I was so moved at this cemetery, at dawn, in the middle of Ukraine.”

He compared help delivered by Western countries to Ukraine to efforts to help a child drowning at the lake. “Everyone sees it and they decide to order a rescue boat to be shipped in a month,” he said. “They decide to order lifebelts to be delivered in three days … to help Ukraine but in a few months, to give fighter jets but in a year.”

Later in the day, reflecting on the visit to the cemetery, the prefect of the Dicastery for the Service of Charity said he “realized my thoughts were very worldly. I thought, ‘I am starting to think in hostile terms towards enemies.’ And I realized then that in June we sing the Litany to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, a heart full of mercy, love, forgiveness, mercy that is scandalous for the world today because it stands above justice.”

Cardinal Krajewski said that in the world today “we would like to get rid of those who are causing the war. And Jesus’ heart is merciful. If only someone will go down to his knees and ask for forgiveness, Jesus won’t be tired of our sins. He will forgive everything. This is what it was with the impenitent thief when Jesus was on the cross: ‘Today you will be with me in paradise.'”

Cardinal Krajewski was in Ukraine to donate the ambulance and medical supplies to a hospital in the country’s Ternopil region, where “many convoys arrive every day which transport civilians and soldiers forced to flee the border area with Russia, where the fighting is most fierce,” the dicastery said in a June 24 statement.

On June 26, the ambulance was handed over to the hospital in the city of Zboriv, “with everyone being very moved to receive the gift from Pope Francis,” the cardinal said.’

During his trip, the cardinal planned to inaugurate the St. John Paul II rehabilitation center on Pope Francis’ behalf “for the integral physical and psychological rehabilitation of those who have suffered war trauma,” the June 24 statement said.

Cardinal Krajewski pointed out that the help of the Vatican has been ongoing since the beginning of the war, with generators needed in a country where energy blackouts last for nine hours daily. “Thanks to energy generators, jobs are saved, food supplies at homes are saved, the Vatican provided several trucks of generators and it’s really crucial help,” he said.

“I am in Ukraine for the eighth time, but this time I realize the nonsense of war the strongest,” Cardinal Krajewski said in a voice message sent to OSV News.
“The graves I visited today in Ukraine reminded me of what a man could do who doesn’t put God in first place but his own evil desires,” he said. “Let the world really help Ukraine and not just produce more weapons.”