Ukraine war: ‘We’re praying for the conversion of Vladimir Putin,’ priest says — By: Catholic News Agency

Father Oleksandr Zelinskyi, the director general of EWTN Ukraine. / Credit: Screenshot of Facebook post

ACI Prensa Staff, Feb 26, 2024 / 18:00 pm (CNA).

Feb. 24 marked the second anniversary of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. After two years of war and no end in sight, Ukrainian Father Oleksandr Zelinskyi of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate shared with ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner, how, despite the suffering, Ukrainians are keeping hope alive with the certainty that “God is capable of doing miracles.” 

The priest, who has been the director of EWTN Ukraine since 2017, said people in the country “are very tired of this war” and although Ukrainians are making an effort to live life normally, “they will never get used to it, since war is not a normal condition of life.”

“It’s not normal when we have air raid sirens every day, deaths, destroyed buildings, and we don’t know where the missiles might fall,” he said.

A ‘forgotten’ war?

Zelinskyi, who did his seminary studies in Poland and has ministered in different parishes and communities in Ukraine, noted that the outbreak of new conflicts, such as the one in the Holy Land, “has in a way caused many to ‘forget’ the war in Ukraine.”

He also pointed out that “maybe it’s also because people are tired of thinking about it all the time and tired of helping.”

“We are very grateful that the pope draws attention to us almost every week and asks people to pray for us, and we are also grateful for the support of our Catholic media,” Zelinksyi added.

He also referred to the documentary titled “Light With Us,” produced by EWTN Ukraine, which reflects on the first months of war, the efforts for peace, and the response of the Church.

Zelinksyi emphasized the need for the faithful to pray and also show signs of solidarity, noting that in the churches of Ukraine, “we pray every day for peace and we are very grateful to all those in the world who continue to pray for us.”

Praying for the conversion of Vladimir Putin

The priest lamented that “it seems that many people have almost lost hope,” mainly due to the prolongation of the conflict, which has left “thousands of people dead, injured, and different problems within the country such that we don’t see an end to the war.”

However, he said that “hope is something that helps us carry on, to work, to live, believing that God can change even the worst for the good.”

“And there are many people,” he continued, “bearing witness that faith and trust in God helps them in these difficult times.”

Zelinskyi said the solution to the conflict is for “the Russians to leave our country and allow us to live in freedom and decide about our future.”

“But as long as they won’t let us,” he said, “and they want to occupy our country, we have to defend our dignity and freedom and pray for the spirit of wisdom for all the leaders who can have an influence in changing this situation.”

“As Ukrainians we don’t want war, and we pray for the conversion of the aggressors,” he said, adding that Vladimir Putin “is one of the dictators of the world” and that they pray “for his conversion.”

The priest pointed to the act of consecration of Russia and Ukraine to the Immaculate Heart of Mary carried out by Pope Francis in March 2022, which he said “did some good, because after this consecration the Russians had to leave the Kiev region. And I believe it was possible thanks to the providence of God.”

“Thus we saw the miracle,” he said, while noting that “in the midst of the suffering and many people losing hope, we continue to believe that God is capable of performing miracles that will help stop this war.”

“Doing everything possible, we try to trust above all in providence and God’s help,” the Ukrainian priest concluded.

This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.

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