Ukrainian Catholic Archbishop Stefan Soroka of Philadelphia called for “fervent prayers” that God would keep the people of Ukraine strong as they mourn the loss of life in the ongoing strife in that country and that Mary “would extend her protective mantle” over them.
“Throughout the world, people are watching in horror at the surreal scenes of violence and brutality on the streets of (Kiev) and other cities throughout Ukraine,” Archbishop Soroka said in a statement released on February 20.
“The images of confrontation and killing, of widespread fires and billowing smoke against a darkened night sky, and the winter air punctuated by the staccato sounds of gunfire and explosive devices are seared in many of our hearts and minds.”
For such “troubled times” he urged Catholics to find inspiration in the words of Verse 11 of the 29th Psalm: “May the Lord give strength to his people; may the Lord bless his people with peace.”
Earlier on February 20 at least 75 people were reported killed in clashes between police and protesters in Kiev, Ukraine’s capital.
According to news reports, with the help of Russian and European mediators, an agreement to end the protests and bloodshed was reached early that morning.
The massive death toll was preceded by a night of violent confrontations on February 18-19, which left more than two dozen people dead.
Pope Francis and Ukrainian Church leaders had called on February 19 for an end to all violence and a serious commitment to dialogue for the good of Ukraine.