Church in Americas unites in prayers for peace in Ukraine
By Sebastián Sansón Ferrari and Vatican News staff writer
The President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has echoed Pope Francis' call for prayer and fasting for peace in Ukraine. Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles issued a statement on Ukraine on Thursday, saying, "On behalf of my brother bishops, I echo the Holy Father’s call for prayer and fasting to end the war in Ukraine. In times of trouble, we call on the tender mercy of God … to guide our feet to the way of peace (Lk 1:78-79). May our prayers, joined with those of people around the world, help guide those waging war to end the meaningless suffering and restore peace. Our Lady, Queen of Peace, pray for us."
The Latin American Episcopal Council (CELAM) has also expressed its worry over the situation in Ukraine and joined Pope Francis' call to political leaders to examine their consciences and put aside everything that causes suffering and threatens peace. Archbishop Miguel Cabrejos Vidarte of Trujillo (Peru), President of CELAM, and Cardinal Odilo Pedro Scherer, Archbishop of Sao Paulo (Brazil), Secretary General, signed the communiqué. They note that in union with Pope Francis they have invited the 22 Episcopal Conferences of Latin America and the Caribbean, the ecclesial institutions of the continent and all brothers and sisters of good will to take part in the day of prayer and fasting for peace set to take place on March 2nd (Ash Wednesday). Together with the Pope, they ask that "the Queen of Peace safeguard the world from the madness of war."
For their part, the Episcopal Conferences of the Americas immediately communicated their closeness to the Ukrainian people, their participation in the day of prayer and fasting for peace and call for the cessation of hostilities.
The Executive Committee of the Canadian Bishops' Conference made public its solidarity with the Head of the Ukrainian Catholic Church, His Beatitude Sviatoslav Shevchuk, in unison with Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew. "With the people of Ukraine, as well as with Canadians of Ukrainian origin and descent, we encourage the faithful and all people of good will to pray for the imminent restoration of peace, dialogue and human fraternity," they stated.
They added that, mindful of the "regrettable lessons on violence" learned in human history, they implore all those involved to "seek non-violent means to resolve disputes and disagreements." They further recalled that the use of military force "is not conducive to dialogue and peace, but endangers innocent human life, the dignity of the human person and the safety of all those caught up in this conflict."