“Showing the solidarity of the West with those who suffer in the East” — Lviv Bishop Edward Kawa on his work at Pope For Ukraine

The Technical Secretariat is set to begin its work on September 1. It will continue the cooperation with the Holy See Secretariat in distributing the funds within the framework of Pope For Ukraine Initiative. Edward Kawa, Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Lviv of the Latins, will lead the Technical Secretariat.

Pertinent to his appointment, Auxiliary Bishop of the Lviv Archdiocese Edward Kawa gave an interview to CREDO on the challenges, goals, difficulties, and expectations in forming the team, on the criteria for choosing staff, as well as on who and how would decide on the allocation of 10 million Euro within Pope For Ukraine Initiative.




































You have been appointed to lead the Secretariat for quite obvious reasons: you have a military chaplain’s experience, you are aware of the real situation in the East, and you were involved in the fates of many people in the front zone. That means you will undoubtedly handle this new task with excellence.

– My candidacy was put forward by the Holy See, and this issue had been discussed with Metropolitan Mokshytsky, who did not hesitate to agree upon the Lviv Archdiocese being thus involved in this important project. And although I am genuinely upset with everything that is happening in the East, and I do want to continue helping people who remained in the gray zone despite the change of my status, this appointment came as a surprise to me. It is a big challenge for me. The form of service I had before was more of a local nature — I traveled to a specific place, met specific people, civilians or military, and did what I could do on my own: strove to find common language, help those people and encourage them to seek God. This form suited me, I was trained for it. I was good at it.

This new challenge has something to do with my previous task, but the horizon of the work has considerably expanded and some issues have become somewhat complicated; there is the bureaucracy, which is an integral part of working with funds. There should be order in everything we do with money, so there should be precise accounting, reliable people, and good planning in order to distribute the funds effectively and for a specific purpose.

– What is the first task at hand?

– I see my first task in building a team that I can trust and rely upon, and that can function effectively. The main office will be in Kyiv, I am going to visit it every week to summarize the work done and plan for the next one. Thus, I also need to find the premises, organize the office, and start a lot of processes from scratch. In a word, at this stage, I look at everything with enthusiasm, although I have already experienced the first difficulties. The main problem is the premises. But God blesses me with people — I have found almost everyone I need, and I was struck by the fact that all the people I offered a position to have agreed without hesitation. I have to say that not the least of my concerns was that the person in question had to be faithful, empathetic, and devoted — I am glad that I have such people, and that almost all of them have agreed on my proposal. Now we are waiting for the approval of their candidacies and we can start work. I do hope that we, as one team, will be able to overcome every obstacle and cope with the task that the Church has set before us.

Our task is to distribute the aid that came to us on the initiative of Pope Francis to those who are the most in need. Whether it is bread, or medicine, or means to keep the winter warm — the main task is to provide everything in a timely and targeted manner. We strive to help the most helpless, those who do not have any support whatsoever and have no place to leave the gray zone for: the elderly, orphans, and widows.

Certainly, we will be guided by certain criteria when choosing the intermediaries to provide this assistance: these should be individuals and organizations that are guided by moral principles, accept Christian values; they should be credible and well-proven in their previous cooperation with the Technical Committee. Therefore, the experience of Bishop Jan Sobilo, who pledged to advise and cooperate with us, will be essential, and I am grateful to him for that.”

– It is also clear why the main office should be in Kiev, but then the question is: why the bishop of Lviv?

– I would not conceal the fact that it will be hard for me to travel every week to the capital. But there is also, in my opinion, the fact that this is a sign to have the Church of Lviv receive such confidence. In it I see the desire of the Holy See to unite the West and the East, to show the unity of the Church, and the solidarity of the West with those who suffer in the East. Although it has been like that lately: most of the volunteers in the East were people from Western and Central Ukraine.

– Bishop Kenneth Novakovsky from the New-Westminster Eparchy (Canada) of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church is farther away from Kyiv than you are…

– Speaking about Bishop Kenneth Novakovsky, I have to say that his presence as a consultant also bears this role of uniting the East and the West: when our differences should not divide us, but unite around a common cause. He also has experience in Caritas, so he can share with us the points to pay attention to, the priorities, the useful criteria, and so on. I am open to cooperation and hope that we will succeed.

– How many people will there be at the Technical Secretariat?

– In total, there will be seven of us: two bishops, a lawyer, an economist, an accountant, a PR manager, and a person who will monitor what is most needed locally and check the fulfillment of obligations.

– Who will have the final word on who receives the money and what for?

– The Technical Committee has selected the recipients by voting. The Secretariat will, instead, gather information: the final decision will be taken by bishops and approved by the Nunciature.

– Representatives of which Churches are going to be involved in the Technical Secretariat of the Pope For Ukraine Initiative?

– Today there are Roman Catholics and Greek Catholics. Representatives of other denominations and churches will be contacted and cooperated with based on their record of cooperation with the Technical Committee. In general, I believe that the distribution of assistance should be carried out by representatives of the Catholic Church, because it was Catholic Church that provided this assistance in the first place — but we will grant it to everyone who needs it, regardless of their religious beliefs. In the first place, we will act according to biblical principles: provide to widows, orphans, and displaced persons.

– Is The Secretariat going to continue its work until it distributes all the funds or is there a limited time period?

– Similarly to the Technical Committee, the Secretariat will work for one year. All of us have to sign the agreement and are aware of the fact that in a year our work in the Secretariat will end. We are yet to see whether we will be able to do everything we want in a year. This will require a lot of effort, but we have some advantage — we can use the experience of our predecessors, which will allow us to continue and develop the cooperation with proven people and organizations.”

Source: CREDO

Translation: Initiative “Pope for Ukraine”