Saturday, December 17, 2022

For Christmas: “Renew Our Closeness” to Ukrainian People

At Wednesday’s General Audience, Pope Francis made a proposal for the coming celebration of Christmas that I think is worth emphasizing: Let us renew our closeness to the martyred Ukrainian people, persevering in prayer for these brothers and sisters of ours who suffer so much. Brothers and sisters, Ukraine is suffering a lot, a lot. I would like to draw attention to the coming Christmas. It’s beautiful to celebrate Christmas, to have parties… but let's lower Christmas spending a little. Let's celebrate a more humble Christmas, with simpler gifts, and send what we can spare to the Ukrainian people, who are in need, suffer a lot, suffer from hunger and cold, and many die because they have no doctors nearby. Lest we forget: Christmas, yes; in peace with the Lord, yes, but also with the Ukrainians in the heart. Let's do a concrete gesture for them.

How can this become a real gesture for us? There are many possibilities for offering financial assistance as a gift to the Ukrainian people. For example, the Knights of Columbus have established a special “Ukrainian Solidarity Fund”, and there are undoubtedly many other good resources that can be found with a quick Internet search.

I would like especially to recommend AVSI, since I have some eminently trustworthy friends involved in this outstanding group. AVSI is a service organization that provides specific help in various locations around the world. AVSI staff work “on the ground,” collaborating personally with local people in need, engaging in and supporting concrete projects that address real problems, and thus helping to engender and build up local communities. AVSI has been active in Ukraine for years, and has been helping refugees since the Russian invasion began. Any donations to AVSI-partnered programs in Ukraine will reach real people facing desperate circumstances during Christmas and the months ahead. A gift to AVSI will make a difference in the lives of these Ukrainian people.

In any case, let’s follow the Pope’s proposal, and keep the Ukrainians in our hearts this Christmas.