The senior Vatican official in Ukraine has said two factors are destabilising Ukraine at the moment; one is Russian aggression, and the other depredation by Ukraine's own criminal oligarchy.
Archbishop Thomas Edward Gullickson, the apostolic nuncio in Ukraine, spoke on difficulties facing the Church in Ukraine in a September 23 address.
He spoke tto officials of the international charity, Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), Catholic World News reported.
Gullickson said Ukraine is suffering from "destabilization, much of it attributable to the depredation carried out and still continuing at the hands of Ukraine's own criminal oligarchy."
This, he said, is "exacerbated by Russian aggression against its territorial integrity and sovereignty."
He noted, "The undeclared war which the Russian Federation is waging against Ukraine has in effect destabilized a country already sorely tried by the depredation of homegrown and foreign profiteers (not only from Russia)."
These racketeers have torn the economic and social fabric of Ukraine "limb from limb especially in the period since independence in 1991."
The Vatican envoy said that Ukraine is now in a position where it is catching up in seeking to repair or remove "structures of servitude from its Soviet Communist past."
Gullickson said other Central and Eastern European countries were able deal with and begin to change almost immediately after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.
He said that Ukraine today suffers from "destabilization, much of it attributable to the depredation carried out and still continuing at the hands of Ukraine's own criminal oligarchy.
"This is exacerbated by Russian aggression against its territorial integrity and sovereignty."
The American-born archbishop said that Catholic churches have been badly damaged in recent fighting, and even after the violence ends there will be heavy costs to rebuild and repair them.
Catholic priests and religious people have been driven out of some areas where Russian forces are active - particularly in Crimea - and he said it is questionable whether they will be allowed to return.
"If Russian aggression ended tomorrow, apart from rebuilding the east, Ukraine would still have enormous challenges to meet in order to root out corruption and establish a just society," the Vatican representative said.
The archbishop remarked on the enormous growth of the Byzantine-rite Ukrainian Catholic Church since the fall of the Communist regime.
"Since 1989, the number of Greek-Catholic priests in Ukraine has climbed from around 300 to over 3,000."
Like other Eastern Catholic churches, the Ukrainian Catholic Church allows the ordination of married men.
Gullickson said that most of the new priests in Ukraine have wives and children - adding to the costs of supporting their parishes.
ACN has provided support to the Ukrainian Catholic Church for years, including subsidies for nearly all seminarians, said the Vatican envoy.