On Wednesday morning, at the end of the general audience, the Pope raised his prayer for peace in Ukraine, asking "the Lord with insistence that this land may see fraternity flourish and overcome the wounds, fears and divisions".
On the day of the Day of Fasting and Prayer for Peace in Ukraine, announced by Pope Francis at the Angelus last Sunday, Francis made this appeal, appealing to filiation to God the Father and to fraternity among men: "Let us pray for peace with the Our Father: it is the prayer of children who address the same Father, it is the prayer that makes us brothers, it is the prayer of brothers who implore reconciliation and concord".
The Roman Pontiff, who revealed an inflammation of a ligament in his knee, invited to pray in this way for peace in Ukraine: "let us pray to the Lord with insistence", so "that this land may see fraternity flourish and overcome the wounds, fears and divisions".
The Holy Father added that Ukraine, "is a suffering people; they have been hungry, they have suffered much cruelty and they deserve peace". For this reason, the Pope invited to pray insistently keeping in mind: "may the prayers and invocations that today rise to heaven touch the minds and hearts of those responsible on earth, so that dialogue may prevail and the good of all be put before partisan interests". Francis concluded his exhortation by recalling and underlining "please, never war".
In response to Pope Francis' appeal, prayer meetings for peace in Ukraine were held in churches and parishes in various countries. In Rome, in the Basilica of Santa Maria in Trastevere, at 7.15 p.m. the The Community of Sant'Egidio has promoted a special prayer that was presided over by Archbishop Paul Richard GallagherSecretary for Relations with the States of the Holy See, and which can be viewed at here.
Also in Rome, at 6:00 pm, a vespers prayer was celebrated in the Church of St. Sophia, convoked by the Ukrainian community, with the participation of Bishop Benoni Ambarus, the director of the Diocesan Office for Migrants, Msgr. Pierpaolo Felicolo, and the rector of the Basilica, Don Marco Jaroslav Semehen. Promoted by the Diocesan Office for Migrants, the vigil was attended by chaplains and representatives of the various ethnic communities.
In Bologna, Cardinal Archbishop Matteo Zuppi presided over the prayer at 7:30 p.m. in the Basilica of Saints Bartholomew and Gaetano. These moments of prayer were joined by other initiatives promoted by dioceses, movements and ecclesial realities.
Invitation of the Roman Pontiff
Last Sunday, Pope Francis said he was following "with concern the rising tensions that threaten to inflict a new blow to peace in Ukraine and to call into question security on the European continent." Tens of thousands of Russian troops are reportedly deployed on the Ukrainian border. In the background may beat the fact that the Kiev regime aspires to join NATO, following the Crimea crisis of 2014.
The Kremlin acknowledged a few days ago that the tension is "too high", while it has been leaked these days that French President Emmanuel Macron, who has just met in Berlin with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, will talk this Friday with Russian President Vladimir Putin in order to suggest a de-escalation plan.
On the other hand, the Apostolic Nuncio in Ukraine, Monsignor Visvaldas Kulbokas, pointed out that "the Pope's closeness comforts the spirits". In an interview granted to the Vatican media, Monsignor Visvaldas Kulbokas added that the people are grateful to Francis: "to know that they are not alone and forgotten is a great help".
"The risk of a possible escalation of the conflict is lived with more courage," the nuncio adds. "Here in Ukraine, Pope Francis is one of the most respected religious personalities by the local population, so this appeal of the Pope after the Angelus prayer last Sunday was immediately received as very important news, which soothes the heart, expresses closeness and solidarity, and in times of difficulty such as those experienced in Ukraine, knowing that you are not alone and forgotten is already a great help."
Polish and Ukrainian bishops alert
"The current situation represents for the countries of Central and Eastern Europe and for the entire European continent a great danger, which can destroy the progress made so far by many generations in the construction of a peaceful order and unity in Europe," the bishops of Poland and Ukraine stressed Monday in a appeal to seek dialogue and understanding.
"In their speeches, the leaders of many countries point to Russia's increased pressure on Ukraine, as it massively gathers weaponry and troops on its border," the bishops explain. "The occupation of Donbas and Crimea has shown that the Russian Federation - violating the national sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine - disregards the binding norms of international law," read the Appeal, according to the same Vatican agency.
The bishops note that "today, the search for alternatives to war to resolve international conflicts has become an urgent necessity, since the terrifying power of the means of destruction is now in the hands of even medium and small powers, and the ever stronger ties that exist between peoples throughout the earth make it difficult, if not practically impossible, to limit the effects of any conflict."
In this vein, "based on the experience of previous generations, we call on the rulers to refrain from hostility. We encourage leaders to immediately abandon the path of ultimatums and the use of other countries as bargaining chips. Differences of interests should not be resolved through the use of arms, but through agreements. The international community must unite in solidarity and actively support, in every possible way, the society in danger," wrote the bishops of Poland and Ukraine.
"In the name of false ideologies, entire nations were condemned to annihilation, respect for human dignity was violated and the essence of the exercise of political power was reduced to violence alone. Today, too, we wish to make it clear that all war is a tragedy and can never be an adequate means of resolving international problems. It has never been and never will be an adequate solution because it generates new and more serious conflicts," they added.
The authors of the Appeal They recalled the words of St. Paul VI, who in his address to the 1978 session of the UN Conference on Disarmament called war "a most irrational and morally unacceptable means of adjusting relations between States". They also recalled the prayer of St. John Paul II: "Father, grant to our times days of peace. Never again war! Amen.
The Appeal has been signed by Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk, Head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church; Archbishop Stanisław Gądecki, President of the Polish Episcopal Conference; Archbishop Mieczysław Mokrzycki, Vice-President of the Ukrainian Bishops' Conference; Archbishop Eugeniusz Popowicz, Metropolitan of Przemysl - Warsaw of the Greek-Catholic Church in Poland; Archbishop Nil Luszczak, Apostolic Administrator of the Ukrainian Episcopal Conference; Archbishop Nil Luszczak, Apostolic Administrator of the Ukrainian Bishops' Conference; and Archbishop Slav Shevchuk, Head of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church. Headquarters Vacant Eparchy of Mukachevo, Catholic Church of Byzantine-Ruthenian rite of Ukraine.