Vatican's ambassador to Ukraine remains in Kyiv despite intense fighting nearby

 | 
01/03/2022
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Diplomatic staff from most countries fleed Kyiv before the fighting broke out, yet the Vatican's apostolic nuncio in Ukraine has stayed in the capital despite the threat that a missle could hit his shelter at any moment. 

BP. VISVALDAS KULBOKAS
Apostolic Nuncio in Ukraine
I am not only an ambassador, I am also the nuncio. I have a double mission, to the Government and to the Church. I am a priest and a bishop, and I represent the Pope before the people. Here I move around with a backpack with essentials because it is difficult to know where I will have to go.

Bishop Kulbokas says he is now giving interviews because the bombings have lessened in recent days and he was finally able to sleep. The amount of messages of support and affection he has received are overwhelming, but they inspire him to keep going. Now, he jokes that Kyiv feels like the capital of the world.

The war, he says, is helping him rediscover the humanity of people, and he has faith in the role the Vatican can play in mediating the conflict since it has no territorial interests. Yet he says its role goes far beyond remaining neutral, which is strictly a political term.

VISVALDAS KULBOKAS
Apostolic Nuncio to Ukraine
The Church is not neutral. The Church is with everyone. The Catholic Church is in Ukraine and in Russia, for example. What the Church does not do is accuse. It distinguishes between evil and the person who commits it, between bad actions and people, because the mission of the Church is to help.

Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican's number two, has offered for the Holy See to act as a mediator to stop the war. Something which Ukraine has requested on several occasions.

Meanwhile, the apostolic nuncio continues to shelter in place, and communicates with the other ambassadors remaining in the country, such as those of Croatia, Slovakia, South Africa, Mexico, Argentina and Turkey. They reach out to support one another when they hear gunshots near their shelters.

VISVALDAS KULBOKAS
Apostolic Nuncio in Ukraine
Yesterday there was shooting about 150 to 200 yards from here. Recently, it's been about 3 to 400 yeards away. About 400 yards away is the intersection of a major artery of the city. There have been several clashes there and you can hear the gunfire and explosions.

Despite the fighting, Bishop Kulbokas wants to send a very clear message: that he is well and remains confident that when people live together as brothers, all reasons for war will disappear.

RM

TR: JM

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