Pope for Ukraine 2016-2017
On 3 April 2016, on the Sunday dedicated to Divine Mercy, Pope Francis asked all the Catholic churches in Europe to promote a collection to help the Ukrainian people, hard hit by the civil war.
The initiative was held on Sunday 24 April in all the dioceses and gathered from among the faithful 15 million euro, of which 5 were personally donated by the Holy Father.
The Pope has personally paid the funds destined to help those who suffer especially the elderly and children, the groups most affected by the conflict, without distinction between Orthodox and Greek Catholics.
"This gesture of charity – as explained by the Holy Father during the Regina Coeli – in addition to alleviating material suffering want to express my personal closeness and solidarity with the whole Church" with the hope "that it can help to promote without further delay peace and respect for the right in that much-tested land ".
Prayer and charity: these are the two arms Pope Francis has repeatedly extended from the beginning of his Pontificate to the “dear Ukrainian people”, especially to those afflicted by a 6-year war on the eastern border of the nation. On numerous occasions, Pope Francis has brought them to the world’s attention. The last time was at the end of last Sunday's Angelus prayer. In that appeal, Pope Francis begged that a ceasefire implemented on Monday be respected so the Ukrainian people can enjoy a long-awaited peace.
His appeal comes just as the “Pope for Ukraine” project draws to a close. Pope Francis launched the “Pope for Ukraine” project in June 2016. The Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development has been supervising it. Just two years after the project launched, 15 million euros had been collected from all of Europe’s dioceses in addition to a personal donation from Pope Francis.
As of November 2018, thanks to the Pope’s project, almost 1 million people had been helped: heaters had been installed in family homes, children suffering from PTSD received services and cardiological exams at the “Kramatorsk City Hospital”, poverty-stricken people and the homeless could take refuge in a social centre created at a Church in Kharkiv and single mothers had been given a home in Korotych.
Through this project, “Pope Francis wished to show deep affection and solidarity with all Ukrainian people, and with those who suffer as a result of the protracted dramatic conditions caused by the war, without any distinction on the basis of religion, confession or ethnicity”. Thus, the project leaves behind a luminous trail of ecumenical cooperation and charity that will continue to aid people due to the concrete things that have been done.
The “Pope for Ukraine” project had been implemented through the collaboration of the Apostolic Nunciature to Ukraine, and Technical Committees located in Zhaporizhia and Kyiv, as well as charitable organizations under the auspices of both the Roman Catholic and Greek-Catholic churches, and other Christian and international organizations.
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Below is the official letter addressed to the presidents of the Bishops' Conference who took part in the initiative "The Pope for Ukraine" in which the hierarchs of the Ukrainian Churches wished to thank the Holy Father and the whole Church for the support and assistance received.