The Great Famine-Genocide in Soviet Ukraine (Holodomor)

Victims of the Genocidal Famine in Ukraine in 1932-1933

By Klara GUDZYK, The Day Weekly Digest
Kyiv, Ukraine, December 16, 2003


On November 23, the old famous Catholic cathedral, Notre Dame, Paris saw an unusual service - a Byzantine (Eastern)-rite liturgy conducted by Bishop Mykhailo Hrynchyshyn, Apostolic Exarch for Greek Catholic Ukrainians of France, the Benelux and Switzerland. The service was dedicated to the 70th anniversary of the manmade famine (Holodomor) in Ukraine.

Cardinal Jean-Marie Lustiger, head of the Episcopal Conference of France, read out a sermon. France thus honored the memory of the innocent people who fell victim to the criminal policies of Stalin's regime. Here come extracts from the sermon of Cardinal Jean-Marie Lustiger handed over to The Day by the Embassy of France in Ukraine.

"Brethren and sisters! It seems astonishing to me that our Lord Jesus Christ closely links the commandment of love - love for God and love for one's neighbor - with the sacrament of sin atonement. The Gospel tells us that the commandment of love for our neighbor can only be fulfilled by way of atoning for our sins... I single out three lessons from the terrible history of the 1930s manmade famine in Ukraine.

"The first one is that we must ask ourselves, 'How could such a thing happen? How can humans perpetrate such murders?' The answer is that such a thing can occur when a human places himself in lieu of God and turns his own will into that of God. The sinful error of the ideology that opted for this kind of massacre was that, in its desire to kill the idea of God, it succumbed to the idea of omnipotence and created idols for itself - not for the good of humankind but for the intentions bereft of sympathy, respect, and humanity. We, believers, know that, to get rid of idols and recognize only the Single Creator and Redeemer, one must always struggle. This is the first lesson we should remember.

"The second lesson is that criminal idolization goes hand in hand with lies, an absolutely indispensable thing for it. The intention was to hide the perpetrated murders, hide the heinous crime. So the only instrument of the hapless victims, all those who 'clamor to heaven for protection,' is the truth. The mammoth lies of Soviet authorities also found recipients in Western countries. Let us remember that lies always go hand in hand with the murder, with the desire to deprive one of his life. But lies, too, relentlessly lead to death, to the murder of your neighbor or to sinful suicide. To love God with all your might and not to stoop to idolization means to work the truth and to live in truth. This is what we must do, recalling this horrible event of our time.

"The third lesson of the Ukrainian manmade famine exposes human faintheartedness. How come the people of good will, the well-informed people, chose not to raise their voice? How come a huge number of people were loath to say a word until they toppled the system that had committed this crime? Who can explain why those who were supposed to protect the truth were guided by their own petty interests instead of countering the murderous idol-worshipping and the triumphant lies?

"We do believe that Christ took upon Himself the innumerable and unfathomable human sufferings, while the Ukrainian peasants, who experienced these, will find consolation in Christ. And let the admission of this terrible crime help nations to embark on the path of love, truth and valor."