“We have no way of knowing how many philosophers, physicians, teachers, and good fathers and mothers were buried in the rubble due to the unthinking and meaningless evil that has entered our streets,” says the coordinator of Greek Catholic military chaplains, Fr. Andriy Zelinsky SJ.
Fr. AndriyZelinskyy has ministered to Ukrainian soldiers for the past 16 years. As the front line chaplain, he accompanied them during the 2014 war in Donbass. Back then, he spent four years on the first front line.
“It is very difficult to see friends die. And these are not acquaintances, people you’ve met with once or twice. They are friends. And I have lost many. Not one, two or three. Man,” Fr. Zelinskyy said in an interview with Crux.
At present, along with the leaders of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, Fr. Zelinskyy has moved to Lviv, where he coordinates the ministry of the other military chaplains.
Where will Russia stop?
“Our war began in 2014,” Zelinskyy told. “It is just that then, the West chose not to notice it. Everybody just closed their eyes, pretend like nothing was happening in Ukraine. But nowadays, thank you, we’re not alone.”
The Jesuit, who is a political science specialist by education, further explains that the Russian government is not “only” after taking over the whole of Donbass or even the whole of Ukraine. Their goal is a profound geopolitical shift in Europe.
Putin’s intention, he said, is a “geopolitical transformation” that will impact all of Europe, because Russia has “much bigger ambitions than just Ukraine. It is important to understand because sometimes we become prey to our willing ignorance. We tried to pretend, believe there was peace.”
“But peace is a result of our openness to truth and justice,” Zelinskyy said. “And we have to open ourselves to it, because, as Jesus said, only truth will set you free.”
In fact, “it’s about the values upon which the whole Western world, the whole Judeo-Christian tradition was constructed.”
“We are all responsible for peace,” he said. “And peace doesn’t begin with words. Peace is not an ideology; it is a responsibility.”
“The most peaceful city I have visited”
Fr. Andriy Zelinskyy highlighted the carnage and devastation inflicted by the Russian army. He indicated that in Kharkov alone the occupiers have ruined around 60 schools and over 600 residential buildings. He also mentioned the incessant shelling of Kiyv, begun at the very onset of the invasion.
“Kyiv was always one of the most peaceful cities I ever visited,” Zelinskyy said. “And I remember the morning in February when this whole mental paradigm was just completely destroyed by the Russian bombs.”
And we still don’t know how many how many philosophers, doctors, teachers, good fathers and mothers have been buried in debris due to the unreasonable, senseless evil that walks our streets these days,” he said.
“We are witnessing evil for the sake of evil. I mean, what is the strategic reason for throwing a 500-kilo bomb on a maternity hospital? On a school? On apartment buildings?”