STEUBENVILLE, OHIO — Ukraine, shaken by political unrest and civilian violence, is experiencing a “revolution of dignity,” said a visiting Ukrainian priest February 27 at Franciscan University of Steubenville.
Father Yuriy Sakvuk, director of Spiritual Life and Pastoral Ministry at Ukrainian Catholic University (UCU) in L’viv, Ukraine, spoke to students, faculty, and staff on the current situation in his troubled country. He emphasized native Ukrainians’ demands for natural human rights and the “birth of a civil society” to transform the country.
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Ukraine is on “pilgrimage from the empire of fear to the kingdom of dignity,” Father Sakvuk said, similar to the biblical flight from Egypt into the Promised Land.
“People are asking, ‘Why do we have to suffer? Why such oppression? Why so many deaths? Where was God?’” Father Sakvuk said. “I am saying to my students, ‘There is no resurrection without cross.’”
Father Sakvuk recounted how an UCU student postponed defending his doctoral dissertation to join the protests in Kiev last week and was one of nearly 100 killed by a sniper’s bullet.
The country has fought to secure Western values since the outbreak of protests in November 2013, following former President Yanukovych’s refusal to strengthen ties with the European Union. Among those Western values, freedom is the most fundamental right of every human being, Father Sakvuk said.
Just days after Father Sakvuk’s presentation at Franciscan University, Russia invaded the Crimea in what appears to be an attempt to gain control of that portion of Ukraine.
Father Sakvuk’s visit to Franciscan was arranged by Dr. Alex Sich, a physics professor and nuclear engineer who lived in Ukraine for 12 years and was the first Westerner permitted to investigate the Chernobyl nuclear reactor meltdown.
Franciscan University was the first stop for Father Sakvuk on his two-month trip to the U.S. and Canada.