Head of the UGCC in Vienna: On behalf of the Ukrainian people, I want to thank Cardinal Theodor Innitzer for his heroic acts during the Holodomor

Thursday, 14 November 2019, 12:59
The Holodomor is a genocide against the Ukrainian nation, and efforts should be made to ensure that such crimes never happen again. If we forget these events and the criminal ideologies that caused them, they have a chance to happen again.
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This was emphasized by Father and Head of the UGCC, His Beatitude Sviatoslav, on Tuesday, November 12, 2019, in Vienna at the inauguration of a plaque commemorating the Archbishop of Vienna, Cardinal Theodor Innitzer who had helped the victims of the Holodomor. The event was initiated by Cardinal Christoph Schönborn.

The ceremony began at 2.30pm in the premises of the Stefanplatz Club 4 with the participation of representatives of the Christian Churches, the Jewish Community of Vienna and secular authorities. Along with Cardinal Christoph Schönborn and the Rabbi of Vienna, His Beatitude Sviatoslav also delivered a greeting speech.

He mentioned the figure of Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky who had played an important role in informing Europeans that there was a famine in Ukraine. Moreover, he had made great efforts to help the victims.

The first to respond to the  Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky was the Vienna Cardinal Theodor Innitzer, who wrote his own address to the whole world. He was the first and the only Catholic leader who organized an international and inter-religious committee together with Orthodox, Protestant, Armenian and Jewish communities to raise public awareness and to gather humanitarian aid and inform the world about Ukraine's famine, which the Soviet state denied at every level and in every situation around the world.

His Beatitude Sviatoslav said, "Opening this plaque dedicated to Cardinal Theodor Innitzer, on behalf of the Ukrainian people, I would like to thank him for the heroic acts he did in his lifetime!"

He also thanked everyone present for their support and solidarity.

After the welcoming speeches, a well-known American historian Timothy Snyder made a separate report called "Forgotten Testimony: Archbishop Innitzer and Afflicted Ukraine."

By personal decision of Cardinal Schönborn, the memorial plaque in honor of Theodor Innitzer was placed in the Archbishop's Palace at the main entrance.


The Word of the Head of the UGCC His Beatitude Sviatoslav:

Your Eminence! Your Excellencies!

Distinguished representatives of the Protestant and Jewish communities!

Distinguished Ambassadors and representatives of the Diplomatic Corps,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The Holodomor, the artificial famine-genocide in Ukraine in 1932-1933, is still an open wound in the memory -- as well as in the body and soul -- of Ukrainians around the world. The crime that happened in Ukraine at that time was planned explicitly against Ukrainian farmers and the people who worked on Europe’s richest soil, called the “Breadbasket of Europe.” Organized by confiscating every kind of food and isolating the region with military units, it became the most efficient and cheapest weapon of mass destruction, killing everyone present in that territory—Ukrainians, Jews, Germans, and everyone who disagreed with the policy of Stalin.

When this disaster erupted, Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky with his bishops in western Ukraine, which at that time was part of the restored Polish state, began receiving alarming news from eye-witnesses every day from the Soviet part of Ukraine. At that time, the Church was the only voice that could be raised on behalf of the innocent, voiceless, and helpless victims. Immediately, Metropolitan Andrey was trying to inform Europeans about the atrocity of those crimes, which killed more than eight million Ukrainians. He made an appeal on July 24, 1933, on behalf of the Ukrainian Catholic bishops called “Ukraina v peredsmertnykh sudorohakh” (in English: “Ukraine in Death Throes”) and organized an international campaign to save fellow human beings dying of hunger.

The first to echo the appeal of Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky was Cardinal Theodor Innitzer of Vienna, on August 20, 1933, by writing his own appeal to the whole world. He was the first – and the only one – among Catholic European leaders to organize an international and interreligious committee together with Orthodox, Protestant, Armenian, and Jewish communities to awaken the consciousness of public opinion, to gather humanitarian aid, and widely inform the world of the famine taking place in Ukraine—which the Soviet state vehemently denied on every level and at every occasion across the globe.

Today, it is a great privilege for me, here in Vienna, to be the voice of the voiceless victims of the Holodomor, and together with His Eminence Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn, Cardinal Innitzer’s successor, my brother bishops of the Orthodox Church, and our Protestant brothers and sisters, along with the Chief Rabbi of Vienna and the Jewish and Armenian communities in Austria, to remember and honor their memory here. As long as a crime is silenced, it continues to kill. For this reason, today’s event truly has a therapeutic and healing significance for us Ukrainians.

We remember the tragedies of the Ukrainian Holodomor genocide in order that similar crimes never happen again. The moment we forget about them or silence the voice of our brothers, whose voice is calling out to heaven from the ground (cf. Gen 4:10), these criminal ideologies and events have the chance of being repeated. We remember in order to prevent this from ever happening again.

By inaugurating this memorial plaque dedicated to Cardinal Theodor Innitzer here in Vienna, in the name of the Ukrainian people, I would like to express our thanks to him for his heroic acts which he did during his lifetime. I would like to thank His Eminence Christoph Schoenborn who wished to have this plaque placed in his Archiepiscopal Palace, a place which remembers the anger and violence of the Nazis towards Cardinal Innitzer.

Thank you, Your Eminence, that you care for the wounds and pains of the Ukrainian people today!

And thank you to all of you who, by your presence, express your solidarity with the Ukrainian people today.

May the merciful God reward you with His infinite mercy!


Photo: Ivan Dovhanyk

The UGCC Department for Information


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