The Catholic aid organization Aid to the Church in Need is sending emergency support to the faithful in Ukraine as Russia invades the country.
“The situation is getting worse every day,” Bishop Pavlo Honcharuk of Kharkiv, who leads one of the dioceses that Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) will support, said in a Thursday press release. “We live now from hour to hour.”
ACN committed one million euros (equal to US$1.1 million USD) to support the work of the Church in Ukraine on Thursday, and is accepting help raising funds to assist the Church in the country. Its support comes after Russia began a full-scale invasion of Ukraine early Thursday morning with the firing of airstrikes and missiles.
According to ACN, its support will aid the 4,879 priests and religious brothers and 1,350 religious sisters in Ukraine. The group will also provide aid to the four Greek-Catholic exarchates and the two Latin dioceses in Eastern Ukraine.
Some of that support will go toward the 57 priests and 54 religious men and women in Honcharuk’s diocese. The money will help them with everything from gas, light, water, fuel, and food to aiding others in need.
“Prices are rising, especially for essential goods,” Honcharuk described. “The situation in the diocese is very difficult. The number of faithful has decreased and those remaining, unfortunately, cannot maintain the parishes or support the priests. They come themselves and ask for help from the priests and sisters.”
ACN reports that while the country’s financial situation has been deteriorating since the beginning of the war in 2014, the national currency, the hryvna, has steadily declined since January with the current crisis.
“What we all wanted to avoid has happened: Ukraine is in a state of war,” Thomas Heine-Geldern, executive president of Aid to the Church in Need said in the press release. “ACN has supported the Church in Ukraine during the past and it will not abandon her at this very critical and difficult time.”
“Especially now, ACN has to ensure the presence of priests and religious sisters and brothers with their people, in the parishes, with the refugees, in the orphanages and homes for single mothers and for the elderly who will face the challenge of surviving in a climate of spiralling costs as a result of the war,” Heine-Geldern added.
He assured the people of Ukraine of the group’s prayers asking for the intercession of Our Lady of Peace.
Founded in 1947, Aid to the Church in Need dedicates itself to the service of Christians around the world, particularly Christians who are persecuted, oppressed, or suffering material need. The group has been recognized as a pontifical foundation since 2011.