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Card. Czerny returns from Ukraine: “They understood that the Pope was with them”

Cardinal Michael Czerny returned to Rome on March 11, after concluding a three-day visit to Ukraine and Hungary. Pope Francis sent him and Cardinal Konrad Krajewski to the war-torn country to express his closeness to the millions of refugees fleeing Ukraine and to those still in the country.

March 6, 2022
The presence of the two Cardinals there is the presence not only of the Pope, but of all the Christian people who want to get closer and say, “War is madness! Stop, please! Look at this cruelty!”

Cardinal Czerny says he is confident that the Pope’s message of solidarity touched many of the refugees he encountered in Ukraine.

“They understood that the Pope was with them. They understood that he cared for them very much and was doing everything he could to help with this awful situation. So I felt that, not thanks to me, but thanks to the Holy Spirit, in fact the mission was accomplishing itself. All I had to do was walk in, and they knew.”

Cardinal Czerny offered words of encouragement and gratitude to humanitarian workers, and listened to those whose lives have been upended by the Russian invasion.

He was especially struck by the generosity of poor Churches which have been putting what few resources they have at the disposal of people fleeing the war.

“It’s not so much what the Church does as what the Church is. That the Church is with the people. That the people are not abandoned.”

The Cardinal also notes that this crisis will put hundreds of thousands of vulnerable people fleeing war at risk of falling prey to human trafficking.

“It’s sad, that, because it’s undetected, because people are not prepared very much to help, to resist it or to fight back, the people are vulnerable.”

Cardinal Czerny does not currently plan to return to Ukraine, but he says he is ready to go back if the Pope chooses to send him.

Meanwhile, Cardinal Konrad Krajewski, the head of the Office of Papal Charities, is expected to make his way deeper into Ukrainian territory, toward Kyiv, going as far as circumstances allow.

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