A service member of the Ukrainian armed forces is seen at combat positions in Donetsk region A service member of the Ukrainian armed forces is seen at combat positions in Donetsk region 

European Bishops appeal for peace and support for Ukraine

The Presidency of the Council of European Bishops' Conferences invites the international community to offer its support to Ukraine in the face of mounting fears of a possible Russian military offensive.

By Linda Bordoni

European bishops have issued an urgent appeal for dialogue and for support for the people of Ukraine as fears mount over a possible Russian military invasion of Ukraine.

Notwithstanding widespread reiterated demands to pull back, the Kremlin is reportedly continuing to mass large numbers of troops on Russia’s border with Ukraine. It denies an intention to “invade” but efforts to de-escalate tension by international diplomats are proving vain.

Giving voice to the Bishops of the European Continent, the Council of European Bishops’ Conferences (CCEE) expresses its closeness to the Churches in Ukraine and to all its people, and call for solutions based on dialogue, not on arms.

A threat to peace throughout the world

A statement signed by CCEE President, Archbishop Gintaras Grušas, invites the international community to offer its support to the country in the face of the danger of a Russian military offensive.

“While the entire international community interprets the actions of the Russian military forces as a real threat to peace throughout the world, we embrace - in this time of fear and uncertainty for the future of the country – our brothers and sisters in the faith and all the people of Ukraine,” the statement reads.

It recalls the numerous times Pope Francis has expressed his paternal closeness to “beloved Ukraine”, urging the powerful in the world to resolve the crisis through “serious dialogue and not with arms”.

The statement also recalls his recent Address to the Diplomatic Corps accredited to the Holy See, in which the Pope stressed, “Reciprocal trust and readiness to engage in calm discussion should also inspire all parties at stake so that acceptable and lasting solutions can be found in Ukraine…”

Appeal to not forget the tragic wars of the last century

“We also, as shepherds of the European Continent, want to appeal to the Leaders of the Nations so that they do not forget the tragic World Wars of the last century and so that international law, as well as the independence and territorial sovereignty of each country, will be defended. Together with the Holy Father, we want to call on Governments to find 'acceptable and lasting solutions' in Ukraine based on dialogue and negotiation and without resorting to arms,” the bishops say.

The statement concludes by asking Christians, “at this extremely delicate time,” to pray for the gift of peace in Ukraine “so that those responsible may be filled with, and radiate, a peace that is 'contagious' and that the crisis will be overcome exclusively through dialogue”.

21 January 2022, 14:02