Ukraine: Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei Churches say war benefits no one
By Robin Gomes
The Catholic Bishops' Conference of Malaysia, Singapore, and Brunei (CBCMSB) has expressed deep concern over the war in Ukraine and its impact on global peace and justice, affecting the lives of people everywhere.
Lenten fast, prayer
“We join the call of Pope Francis to all Catholics and people of faith and goodwill, to dedicate this first day of Lent, Ash Wednesday and beyond, as days of fasting and prayer for peace and justice in Ukraine and in the world,” wrote CBCMSB president, Bishop Sebastian Francis of Penang (Malaysia) in an appeal posted on the webpage of the bishops on March 2.
The bishops’ body, which brings together the nine dioceses of Malaysia and the single dioceses of both Singapore and Brunei, said they were joining “the chorus of Christian churches and leaders across Asia, together with all people of faith and goodwill, in humbly appealing for peace and justice”. They said, “We call upon Russia, Ukraine, and all interested parties to put a stop to the madness of violence and war and come to the table of peace and justice.”
War benefits no one
They argued that in the long term, wars do not benefit anyone. “On the contrary, it only brings destruction and leaves a trail of immense suffering and displacements.”
The Church leaders pointed out that mutual respect, acceptance of differences among all sides, and integrity of nations, are crucial to lasting peace and justice for mutual co-existence. “Wherever there is conflict," the bishops said, “the world urgently needs to put in place a recovery plan including now for the peoples of Ukraine; and strengthening every effort at peace and reconciliation.”
The Churches of Malaysia, Singapore, and Brunei prayed that the Lord touch the hearts of all leaders, decision-makers, and the people of God, to stop this war and establish peace and justice.
Pope’s peace efforts
Pope Francis has been closely following the developments in Ukraine even before Russia’s large-scale military invasion of its neighbour on February 24. He has made several appeals for peace through dialogue and negotiation.
Sensing the winds of war with Russia’s buildup at Ukraine’s border, he used his weekly General Audience of February 23 “to appeal to those with political responsibility to examine their consciences seriously before God, who is the God of peace and not of war,” who wants us to be brothers and not enemies.
He thus invited all to observe March 2, Ash Wednesday, as a day of fasting and prayer for peace in the region, saying “Jesus taught us that the diabolical senselessness of violence is answered with God's weapons, with prayer and fasting”. He added, “May the Queen of Peace preserve the world from the madness of war.”
The day after the invasion, the Holy Father chose to visit the Russian Embassy to the Holy See in Rome, where he spoke for over half an hour with Ambassador Alexander Avdeev, expressing his concerns about the war.
Malaysia, Singapore, and Brunei were among the 141 countries who voted overwhelmingly at the UN General Assembly on Wednesday demanding an immediate halt to Moscow’s aggression against Ukraine and the withdrawal of all Russian troops.