Letter to Secretary of State Kerry on Ukraine and Russian Occupation of Crimea, March 22, 2016
March 22, 2016
The Honorable John Kerry
Secretary of State
2201 C Street, NW
Washington, DC 20520
Dear Secretary Kerry:
This month marks the second anniversary of Russia’s occupation of Crimea. It is also a time to reflect on the ongoing struggle of Ukraine. In her recent testimony to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Assistant Secretary Victoria Nuland noted actions Ukraine’s leaders must take to advance unity, justice and effective governance and in doing so, merit the support from the United States and the international community. One aspect she did not mention was the role of the faith-based community. Communities of faith are at the forefront of the struggle for freedom, self-determination and justice in Ukraine.
Enclosed is a statement by the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church (UGCC), issued in Rome on March 6, 2016. In it the bishops outline the suffering Ukrainians have endured over the past two years caused by the Russian invasion. They view it as “a hybrid war directed at (our) sovereignty, economic viability, historical memory, and international standing” that has led to a humanitarian crisis with 2 million internally displaced. They call for “moral leadership and charitable help” and say they stand ready “to facilitate responsible, transparent … administration of international assistance, serving the Ukrainian population without regard to ethnicity, political or linguistic preferences or religious affiliation.” If support is not forthcoming, they fear the values of human dignity and rule of law will be endangered in Ukraine and in the rest of Europe.
Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville, President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and Archbishop Blase Cupich of Chicago, Chair of the Subcommittee for the Church in Central and Eastern Europe, visited Ukraine in June 2015 to express solidarity with the local Church and to view the difficult humanitarian situation in Kharkiv, Lviv and Kyiv. Our Committee hopes you will consider increasing humanitarian and development funding to meet these dire needs.
We greatly appreciate the State Department’s commitment to a united sovereign Ukraine. U.S. efforts to guide Ukraine’s leaders to implement reforms that uproot corruption, restore the rule of law and strengthen the economy are vital. As you can see in the attached statement, the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church is ready to do its part in that process. I trust that this statement will be useful as your Department seeks to find a way forward for Ukraine in partnership with leaders from all sectors of society, including UGCC.
Most Reverend Oscar Cantú
Bishop of Las Cruces
Chair, Committee on International Justice and Peace
Encl. Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church March 6, 2016 statement
cc: Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland
U.S. Special Representative for Religion and Global Affairs Shaun Casey
Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom Rabbi David Saperstein 1