As the world marks the one year anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24, Dean of Theology and Religious Studies (TRS) and Ukrainian Catholic priest Father Mark Morozowich, S.E.O.D., said “the resilience of the Ukrainian people in standing up for their own freedom has made a real difference.”
“The drive to live and live freely is what this war is about,” said Father Morozowich. “Russian president Vladimir Putin wants to build a world in his own image and likeness, where there is no possibility for dissent.” Evidence of potential Russian war crimes continue to mount, which will be explored in an upcoming Institute for Policy Research conference which will focus on the enduring relevance of the Nuremberg Principles in protecting human rights.
Father Morozowich noted that in areas occupied by Russian forces, the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church and even the native language have been abolished. Yet Ukrainians continue to speak out and the use of their mother tongue has skyrocketed since the invasion. The Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church during the Soviet-era was the largest underground church in the world, a legacy that continues to inspire the faithful under fire.
Father Morozowich, a descendant of Ukrainian immigrants, said he continues to speak with friends in Ukraine each day and is struck by their heroism.
“One thing that is clear to me is that they are destined and determined to live,” said Father Morozowich. Thousands of miles away, the question he continues to ask himself is how he can give more to the cause for freedom.
In his capacity as a liturgical scholar and dean of TRS, Father Morozowich has been instrumental in establishing the Center of Ukrainian Church Studies and developing a close connection with the Ukrainian Ukrainian Catholic University, which is the only Catholic university in the former Soviet Union. Yet the most important work that can be done, he said, is to pray for the conversion of hearts.
“The importance of prayer cannot be overstated,” said Father Morozowich, who also said that “time, treasure, and talent” also play an important role in supporting the Ukrainian people. He noted Caritas, Catholic Relief Services, Catholic Near East Welfare Association, and the Ukrainian Catholic Archeparchy of Philadelphia for being leaders in faith-based relief efforts.