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Polish cardinal in Ukraine: 'Neither words nor tears'

20.09.2022 18:30
Polish Cardinal Konrad Krajewski, on a mission in Ukraine in the name of Pope Francis, has described the trauma that he experienced at the site where several hundred unmarked graves have been found outside the eastern town of Izium, previously occupied by Russian forces.
Cardinal Konrad Krajewski.
Cardinal Konrad Krajewski.Photo: PAP/Grzegorz Michałowski

Speaking to the Vatican media, the papal almoner said: "There are neither words nor tears."

He went to the site on Monday with Bishop Pavlo Honcharuk of the Kharkiv-Zaporizhzhia Diocese.

Cardinal Krajewski was quoted by the Vatican News media outlet as saying: "There we witnessed a 'celebration' - we can say - during which some 50 young men, mostly policemen, firemen, soldiers dressed in white overalls, were digging and carrying away from the graves – many of them common graves - the bodies of Ukrainians who were killed some 3-4 months ago, some of them just recently buried."

The Polish cardinal said that seeing so many dead altogether causes feelings that are very difficult to express.

He went on to say that it was deeply touching “to see these young Ukrainians carrying the bodies in such a delicate way, so quietly, in total silence. It looked like a ‘celebration’. No one spoke, but there were so many policemen and soldiers there... At least 200 people. All of them in silence, with an incredible appreciation for the mystery of death. Truly there was so much to learn from them.”

Cardinal Krajewski told Vatican News that together with Bishop Honcharuk they walked among them reciting the Chaplet of the Divine Mercy over and over. They spent at least three hours doing this, and reiterated that it was a “celebration of mercy”, a totally gratuitous gesture. […]They showed a human beauty in a place where there could be only revenge. But no: I was reminded of the words of the Holy Scriptures that tell us that evil must always be overcome with good.”

Last Friday, Cardinal Krajewski and his charitable entourage - two other bishops, one Catholic and one Protestant, and a Ukrainian soldier - came under light arms fire in the Zaporizhzhia area.

Cardinal Konrad Krajewski is Prefect of the Vatican’s Dicastery for the Service of Charity. It is his fourth humanitarian aid mission in Ukraine since the start of Russia’s invasion on February 24.

On Tuesday, he was to travel from Kharkiv to Kyiv, the last stage of his mission.