Polish Catholic archbishop greets Ukrainian refugees arriving at train station as humanitarian crisis grows
Refugees from Ukraine arrive at Przemyśl Główny train station in eastern Poland. / Caritas Poland
Przemysl, Poland, Feb 28, 2022 / 13:00 pm (CNA).
A Catholic archbishop greeted Ukrainian refugees arriving at a train station in eastern Poland on Saturday amid a growing humanitarian crisis.
Archbishop Adam Szal visited the new arrivals at the main railway station in Przemyśl on Feb. 26 as hundreds of thousands of people crossed the Polish border from Ukraine, reported Onet.pl.
He expressed his solidarity with the refugees and assured them that he was praying for peace in their homeland. He also thanked local volunteers for their assistance.
In a video message recorded on the same day, the archbishop of Przemyśl encouraged Polish people to open their hearts and homes to Ukrainian refugees.
According to Poland’s Border Guard, almost 327,000 people have entered the country since Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a full-scale invasion of Ukraine, an Eastern European nation of 44 million people, on Feb. 24.
Poland, a Central European country with a population of 38 million people, and Ukraine share a 332-mile border.
Catholic organizations in Poland are helping tens of thousands of refugees, providing them with beds, housing, psychological support, food, and clothing.
A collection for Ukraine was held in churches across the country on Sunday, Feb. 27, and a further collection will take place on Ash Wednesday, March 2.
The collections are being taken in response to a Feb. 24 appeal by Archbishop Stanislaw Gądecki, president of the Polish bishops’ conference.
His call to Poland’s Catholics to offer shelter to people fleeing the Russian invasion was reiterated on Feb. 25 by the permanent council of the bishops’ conference.
The bishops urged Polish Catholics to open “homes, hostels, diocesan and parish retreat houses, and all places where help can be provided to people in need.”
The Church’s support is being channeled mainly through Caritas Poland, the country’s largest charity, and diocesan branches of Caritas.
Last week, Caritas Poland made an initial donation of 100,000 Polish złotys (around $24,000) in emergency aid. The funds have been transferred to Caritas Ukraine, overseen by the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, and Caritas-Spes, operated by Ukraine’s Latin Rite Catholic Church.
The most urgent needs include food and hygiene supplies, as well as such as mattresses, sleeping bags, blankets, and mobile kitchens. Polish Catholic dioceses are organizing transport for refugees as well as in-kind donations.
The John Paul II Catholic University of Lublin (KUL) has offered housing for more than 100 students, as well as legal, spiritual, psychological, and childcare help to Ukrainian citizens suffering as a result of Russia’s invasion.
The university has set up a phone number and email address, where refugees from Ukraine can find out where they can receive assistance and how to continue studying in Poland.
The Polish association of the Order of Malta is also helping people fleeing the war. In the southern city of Kraków, members are providing meals for refugees housed in hotels.
The order is also establishing medical aid centers in several Polish cities, as well as at the train stations in Przemyśl and nearby Rzeszów, where there is a constant stream of new arrivals.