Leader of the Ukrainian Catholic Church Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk left the country for the first time since the beginning of the war to visit Pope Francis and the Curia in Rome.
During a private meeting with Pope Francis, Shevchuk gave him a gift he had brought.
It was a piece of shrapnel from a Russian mine that destroyed part of a church façade in the town of Irpin outside Kyiv.
The Ukrainian Greek Catholic church said in a press release the shrapnel was “a very symbolic gift, not only because Irpin is one of the first ‘martyr towns’ affected by Russian aggression against Ukraine but also because such pieces of land mine are extracted from the bodies of Ukrainian soldiers, civilians, and children, a visible sign of the destruction and death that war brings every day.”
Shevchuk said he told Pope Francis “about the service of our bishops, priests, monks, and nuns in the currently occupied territories.”
“I emphasized that all our pastors stood by the suffering people. I explained that each of our cathedrals, churches, and monasteries have become centers of refuge, welcome, and humanitarian service.”
Pope Francis in turn encouraged Shevchuk to carry out “an evangelical service of closeness to the suffering people” and reminded him of his closeness to Ukraine.
Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk, the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church leader, gave Pope Francis a fragment of a Russian mine which destroyed the exterior of a church in the city of Irpin, near Kyiv. Francis met Shevchuk in the Vatican today. pic.twitter.com/PntIntjtPP
— Christopher Lamb (@ctrlamb) November 7, 2022