CLEVELAND – As the violent conflict in Ukraine continues to create an enormous humanitarian disaster, the Knights of Columbus provided $400,000 to relief programs sponsored by the Catholic Church in Ukraine.
Gifts by the Knights of $200,000 each to the Greek-Catholic and Latin rite Catholic communities of Ukraine are being used for humanitarian relief, including projects that feed and aid homeless children and refugees living on the streets of the capital city of Kyiv.
News of the donations was reported in the April edition of the Knights of Columbus monthly newspaper that serves the Greater Cleveland area (whose editor is William Murmann, husband of Romana Murmann, a member of Ukrainian National Women’s League of America Branch 12).
During their visit with Pope Francis on February 20, the pontiff assured the Latin rite and Greek-Catholic bishops of Ukraine that “the Holy See is at your side,” and urged them “to be attentive and considerate to the poor.” The Knights of Columbus gifts have been sent to Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk and Roman Catholic Archbishop Mieczyslaw Mokrzycki.
“Too often, the conflict in Ukraine is discussed purely in military or geopolitical terms, while the most vulnerable and marginalized – the young and old, the poor, the sick and the increasing number of refugee families – are almost invisible to the outside world,” said Supreme Knight Carl Anderson of the Knights of Columbus. “Our support is meant to further enable the bishops of Ukraine as they help their people and further implement the holy father’s call to aid those most in need.”
Working in the midst of uncertainty, many of the Catholic efforts are designed to help provide a social safety net for the needy, especially orphans and children separated from their parents.
The programs attempt to carry out in a practical way the spiritual message of Pope Francis. Speaking about the care of migrant and itinerant people, he said: “Let us not forget the flesh of Christ, which is in the flesh of refugees: their flesh is the flesh of Christ.”
The Knights of Columbus began working in Ukraine at the invitation of the Church leadership in 2005. A formal presence was established in 2013, and the organization has so far established seven councils with 300 members in the country.