1. UD Catholics should care about just wars. And if ever there was a just war, Ukraine is fighting one now. Russia invaded Ukraine, a sovereign country, and is currently brutalizing that country, indiscriminately bombing civilian targets, including hospitals and schools, and committing documented war crimes. The International Criminal Court has issued an arrest warrant for Vladimir Putin himself. Not protesting such crimes makes one complicit.
For more on Russia’s war crimes, see the US State Department website and the ICC website. https://www.state.gov/war-crimes-by-russias-forces-in-ukraine/
2. UD Catholics should care about truth. We should be well-informed and must resist the moral relativism peddled by some who would equate “propaganda” on both sides, deride fact-checking, or speak of “the fog of war” as if the two sides in this war were somehow commensurate. They are not. Journalists are not free in Russia. Putin’s war on truth is not just limited to having those who dare to speak the truth imprisoned, tortured, poisoned, and — most recently — pushed out of windows. His propaganda machine — its false history, its suppression of information about the war, its prohibition against even describing this war as a “war,” its absurd characterization of the Ukrainian regime as a “Nazis” regime, etc. — is a war against truth itself.
See Politifact.com on Putin. And for an interesting example of people with differing political views coming together for the sake of truth, see Sean Hannity’s Fox interview on April 5, 2022 on YouTube.
3. UD Catholics should defend the Christian faith, and should vehemently resist when Christian faith is perverted and appropriated by tyrants. Putin has constructed a false medieval religious history to justify expanding his political territory under the guise of “unifying” religion. For Catholics not to resist such a grotesque display of false religion is to abnegate standing up for our own faith. It is also to send a dangerous message — that one is complacent about standing up for the goodness in faith — to those whom one seeks to evangelize. And especially during Lent, we should remember the prayer of St. Ephrem to resist first of all apathy and cynicism.
For one account of Putin’s distorted messianism, see “Putin’s Holy War: The Messianic Myths Fueling Russia’s Assault on Ukraine” in Haaretz on May 11, 2022. For the corruption controversies of the Russian Patriarch Kirill, see Forbes’ article from Feb. 20, 2009.
4. UD Catholics should care about Catholicism in particular. Ukrainian Catholics are fighting not only for their lives, but for their Church. Polish Catholics, in their astonishing generosity towards the millions of refugees, understand this well: that the so-called “unity” proclaimed by the Russian Patriarch in his support or Putin has no room for the centuries of diversity that the Catholic Church has nurtured by allowing the Eastern Rite and many other local practices. Eastern European Catholics perceive this war not just as a political battle, but as a spiritual one, and UD Catholics should stand with them in solidarity.
For how Ukrainian Catholics view the war, see the Catholic News Agency’s March 31, 2022 article titled “Ukraine war is a reminder of an invisible spiritual battle, Catholic leader says.” For the history of Catholic diversity, see Catholics and Cultures piece on Eastern Catholic Churches.
5. UD Catholics should never despair that they cannot make a difference. A thirteen year-old daughter of a Ukrainian refugee now living in Holland witnessed her thirteen year-old friend shot to death by Russian soldiers as she was fleeing. The young survivor was given a gift of sewing materials for her hobby of making costumes. This gift restored her faith in the goodness and kindness of people. There are so many other examples that prove how small acts of solidarity cannot individually win a whole war, but they can make a huge difference in an individual’s life.
For an account of such small acts, see Global Citizen’s piece titled “9 Acts of kindness towards Ukraine’s people that will give you hope” from March 3, 2022.
6. UD Catholics should care about political liberty. Freedom is at the heart of our faith, not only in our individual acts of free will, but in our respect for the dignity of the individual and in our rejection of those who seek to enslave others. There’s a reason that the civilized world supports Ukraine and that the handful of countries supporting Russia consist of corrupt autocracies – including Syria, Myanmar, Belarus, and North Korea. Catholics should not want to be in their company, but rather to strengthen their alliances with those who support liberty.
To see the 141 countries that voted for — and the 6 countries that voted against — the UN resolution calling for Russia’s immediate withdrawal from Ukraine, see The Hill’s Feb. 23 piece titled “These 6 countries sided with Russia in UN vote on Ukraine war.”
7. Lastly, UD Catholics should know that supporting Ukraine does not preclude prayer and care for those suffering in our own community. That said, although Ukraine might seem far away, UD Catholics should remember that there are Ukrainian students and faculty in our community right now. Supporting Ukraine supports them, too.