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Christianity prays for peace in Ukraine as dialogue continues

Responding to the Pope's invitation, there has been an outcry these days in which the Catholic Church, and in some places such as Kiev, also the Orthodox and Protestant Churches, have prayed to God intensely for peace in Ukraine and in Europe.

Rafael Miner-January 30, 2022-Reading time: 5 minutes

Basilian Father Johan Lubiv leads the singing of a traditional prayer for Ukraine during an evening prayer service at St. George's Ukrainian Catholic Church in New York City ©CNS photo/Gregory A. Shemitz

Ukraine "is a suffering people, they have suffered much cruelty and deserve peace."The Holy Father exclaimed on Wednesday at the Day of Fasting and Prayer for Peace, called by Pope Francis. Well, Christianity has echoed, and to a greater or lesser extent, many have begun to pray deeply for peace in Europe, and especially in Ukraine.

"Gathered together in prayer we implore peace for Ukraine," Archbishop Paul Richard Gallaguer, Secretary for Relations with States of the Holy See, asked in the Basilica of Santa Maria in Trastevere in Rome, in a celebration promoted by the Community of Sant'Egidio. "May the winds of war be silent, may the wounds heal, may men, women and children be preserved from the horror of conflict."

"We are in communion with the Pope so that every initiative is at the service of human fraternity", added Monsignor Gallagher. His words highlighted, first of all, the drama of conflicts and the disparity between those who decide them and those who suffer them, between those who systematically carry them out and those who suffer the pain, the official Vatican agency reported.

"We know how dramatic war is and how serious its consequences are: they are painful situations that deprive many people of the most fundamental rights," he added. But even more scandalous, he said, "is to see that those who suffer most from conflicts are not those who decide whether or not to start them, but are above all those who are only helpless victims of them."

"All defeated in humanity"

"How sad," Archbishop Gallagher stressed, "in the 'laceration' of entire populations caused by 'the hand of man,'" by "carefully calculated and systematically carried out actions," and not by "an outburst of anger," or "by natural catastrophes or events beyond human control."

"These are such widespread scenarios today," noted the Secretary for Relations with States, "that we cannot fail to recognize that we are all 'defeated' in our humanity and that we are all 'co-responsible for promoting peace.' But God has made us brothers and sisters, and therefore, aware of this scenario and bearing in our hearts the drama of the 'conflicts that tear' the world apart, we recognize ourselves as brothers and sisters both to those who provoke them and to those who suffer their consequences, and in Jesus Christ we present to the Father both the grave responsibility of the former and the pain of the latter. For all, let us invoke from the Lord the gift of peace".

We invoke peace, but "without limiting ourselves to waiting for agreements and truces to be reached and respected, but imploring and committing ourselves so that in us and in all hearts the new man may be reborn," unified in Christ "who lives in peace and believes in the power of peace," he added.

Ecumenical prayer in Kiev

This week the Ukrainian capital hosted the prayer for peace in the Latin Catholic Cathedral of St. Alexander, in unity with all the communities of the world, reports the Community of Sant'Egidio.

"Since the outbreak of the war in Dombas, the leaders of Sant'Egidio have been organizing every month a moment of prayer for peace, which on this occasion had a special solemnity. In the cathedral, many Kievites, including many young people, took part in the prayer presided over by the Nuncio to Ukraine, Msgr. Vysvaldas Kulbokas, which was attended by representatives of the various Christian churches.

The Nuncio stressed the importance of common prayer: "The temptation is to put before what divides and not what strengthens the human family. But if we give priority to the Kingdom of God, everything becomes secondary, and then the divisions in families, homes, in the people and among different peoples become secondary, because they lose their importance before the sun, which is our God, one for all".

Participating in the prayer were a bishop representing the Latin Catholic Church and another representing the Greek Catholic Church, together with the bishop of the Armenian Orthodox Church and other Orthodox and Protestant representatives, along with civil authorities.

American and European bishops

In addition to the appeal of the Polish and Ukrainian bishops, which reported OmnesThe Commission of the Bishops of the Bishops' Conferences of Europe (COMECE) and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) have joined the whole Church and the people of Ukraine in two communiqués. In them, they invite the faithful to join the prayer called by Pope Francis for the end of hostilities in Ukraine and for peace in the Old Continent.

"We urge the international community, including the European Union, to renew its commitment to peace and to actively contribute to dialogue efforts, not by demonstrating force and reinforcing the dynamics of armament, but by seeking creative forms of negotiation and value-based compromise," said Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich, Archbishop of Luxembourg and President of COMECE, in a statement expressing grave concern over the current tensions between the "neighbors" to the East and expressing solidarity with the brothers and sisters of Ukraine.

In the communiqué, Cardinal Hollerich mentions the statement of the Polish and Ukrainian bishops, in which they call on the rulers to stop "hostilities", since "war is always a defeat for humanity". COMECE calls on all parties to put aside particular interests and promote steps leading to disarmament, which seek a peaceful and sustainable solution to the crisis, based on a truthful dialogue rooted in international law, the Vatican agency reports.

Respect integrity and independence

"In the face of the alarming situation in Ukraine, we call on all leaders to respect the territorial integrity and political independence of Ukraine and to engage in constructive dialogue to peacefully resolve this conflict that affects the lives and livelihoods of 43 million Ukrainians." This is stated in a statement Bishop David J. Malloy, Bishop of Rockford and Chairman of the USCCB's International Justice and Peace Committee.

"Let us join the Holy Father who, in his 2022 address to the diplomatic corps, said: 'Reciprocal trust and readiness to engage in a serene discussion must inspire all parties at stake, so that acceptable and lasting solutions can be found in Ukraine...'"

"The Catholic bishops of Ukraine and Poland issued an appeal on Jan. 24 for leaders to refrain from war and 'withdraw ultimatums immediately.' They called on 'the international community to join efforts in solidarity and actively support those threatened in every possible way."

"In this time of fear and uncertainty," concludes Msgr. Malloy, "we stand in solidarity with the Church in Ukraine and offer our support. We ask all the faithful and people of good will to pray for the people of Ukraine, especially on January 26, that they may know the blessings of peace."

Macron, Putin, Zelenski

At the same time, sources at the Elysee confirmed that the French and Russian presidents, Emmanuel Macron and Vladimir Putin, held a telephone conversation of about an hour on Friday, during which, despite "significant" disagreements, they agreed on the need for a "de-escalation" and to continue the dialogue.

Following the telephone meeting between Emmanuel Macron and Vladimir Putin, "the ball is in Russia's court", said the Elysée on the latent tension on Ukraine's borders, reported France 24. Moreover, a Kremlin communiqué stressed that the answers given by the United States and NATO on Wednesday 26 January did not reassure Putin, because they did not address his security requirements in Eastern Europe, according to the same sources. However, the two leaders left the door open to continue the dialogue on security in Europe.

At the same time, the President of Ukraine, Volodimir Zelenski, has stated that he believes there is danger, but not as imminent as his allies point out. In the same vein, the Russian Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, has pointed out that "Russia does not want a war".

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