Westminster Catholics represented in Trafalgar Square at Rally for Ukraine

l-r: Bishop Kenneth Nowakowski, Papal Nuncio Archbishop Claudio Gugerotti, Archbishop Anba Angaelos

l-r: Bishop Kenneth Nowakowski, Papal Nuncio Archbishop Claudio Gugerotti, Archbishop Anba Angaelos

An estimated 2,000 people, gathered in Trafalgar Square on Saturday, 5 March, for a peace rally organised by the main Ukrainian community groups in the UK.

The Apostolic Nuncio to Great Britain, Archbishop Claudio Gugerotti, told those gathered: “Today we are all Ukrainian.” He brought a message from Pope Francis assuring everyone present and all those who have family and friends in Ukraine that the Holy Father is remembering them in his prayers.

Bishop Kenneth Nowakowski, Bishop for Ukrainian, Belarusian and Slovak Eastern Catholics in Great Britain also attended with Coptic Orthodox Archbishop Anba Angaelos, the Archbishop of Birmingham, Most Rev Bernard Longley, Mgr Keith Newton from the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, Fr Dominic Robinson SJ, head of Westminster Diocese Justice and Peace Commission, who represented Cardinal Vincent Nichols and a group of priests and seminarians from the Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of the Holy Family.

There were calls from several speakers for the EU to provide a ‘no fly zone’ over Ukraine.

In a speech, journalist and author Paul Mason appealed for the British parliament to pass emergency legislation confiscating property and fortunes of the billionaire Russian oligarchs living in the UK. “They made their fortunes by stealing from the Russian people” he said. Mason proposed that this money could be used to help provide medical care, food and shelter for the more than one million refugees who have been forced to flee their homes by invading Russian forces.

A Russian couple attending the rally, Anna and George from Moscow, told ICN: “We came here to show our support for the Ukrainian people. Our family and friends do not support Putin. We feel this invasion was a savage act. We are concerned for the safety of our own families and very worried about the situation in Ukraine. This is a tragedy.” Anna said: “I have hardly slept since this began..”

Two Ukrainian sisters from a town near Lviv who are working as nurses here, said: “We have family near the Russian border. On the first day of the invasion we were able to speak with our parents. Our mother has diabetes so she needs regular medication. They said if things looked dangerous they would go to another place but since then we have heard nothing. We are desperately worried and praying for their safety.”

The day was organised by Euro-Maidan, The Association of Ukrainians in Great Britain, the Ukrainian Women’s Organisations in Great Britain, the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church and the Ukrainian Orthodox Churches in Great Britain, among others.

If you would like to support organisations working with Ukrainian refugees see: www.gofundme.com/f/helpukraine

Watch a clip from the day: www.youtube.com/watch?v=FEmzlh8h3J0&t=8s