Residential houses are damaged by a Russian military strike Residential houses are damaged by a Russian military strike  

European Churches’ Christmas message: War is a wound to humanity

In their annual joint Christmas message, European Churches pray for peace in Ukraine and in Europe. The World Council of Churches also issues its Christmas message calling on all people of good will to be agents of reconciliation, and peacemakers amid growing fears of war, climate change and hunger.

By Lisa Zengarini

The Churches of Europe have focused this year’s joint Christmas Message on the “immense suffering” of the people of Ukraine, and on those forced to flee their homes by the military invasion waged by Russia nearly ten months ago.

Christmas brings a promise of hope despite war

“The on-going bloodshed in Ukraine is an open wound to humanity,” says the message signed by Rev. Christian Krieger and by Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich SJ, respectively presidents of the Conference of European Churches (CEC) and the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Union (COMECE).

Despite the “dark shadows of war” we are facing today, the two Church leaders remark that Christmas still brings us “a promise of hope”.

“God’s way is not power and selfishness. On the contrary, it encompasses closeness and compassion. As we read in the Scriptures, God did not manifest Himself to the prophet neither in the powerful wind, nor in the earthquake nor in the fire, but in “sheer silence” (1Kings. 19:11-12), and “the Word became flesh and lived among us” (John 1:14), as He became a gift to humanity in a small and fragile child Jesus Christ.”

Pray for Ukraine

As the Christmas celebrations approach, the message, therefore, invites the faithful to pray in a special way for peace in Ukraine and for all those tormented “by cold, hunger and fear”, and for the aggressors to stop the hostilities “so that all parties, with the help of the international community, may open themselves up to dialogue and negotiation.”

Closing their message, the European Churches propose the following prayer  and express hope that Christmas may inspire everyone “to seek reconciliation and peace, so that instead of walls of division and indifference, seeds of mutual respect, solidarity and human fraternity be planted and nourished in our hearts”:

“We pray for the people of Ukraine, for all who are caught up in violence and war, for all those suffering and afraid, that you will protect them and strengthen them. We pray for world leaders, for wisdom, integrity and compassion, that you will guide their feet in the way of justice and reconciliation. We pray for church leaders, for discernment, determination and courage, that they may speak words of truth and righteousness. We pray for the people of Russia, for all those who plead for an end to violence and conflict, for all those who are persecuted for speaking against aggression, that you will console, support and guard them. We ask for comfort for those who mourn, hope for those who despair, forgiveness for those who commit violence, and mercy for all who suffer. In the name of Jesus Christ, our Prince of Peace.”

The WCC' Christmas Message

War, and in particular the threat of nuclear war, is also one of the focuses of the World Council of Churches’ (WCC) Christmas Message, signed by the WCC acting general secretary Rev. Prof. Dr Ioan Sauca.

In the face of growing fears of nuclear disaster, climate change and hunger, which in our age of social networks, are also leading “to increasing hate speech, to a proliferation of conspiracy theories, violations of human rights, and threats to democracy”, the message invites Christians to confide “in the divine promise of peace on earth and God’s goodwill towards humanity.”

“As we welcome this promise, God’s Spirit makes us people of good will” that is “agents of reconciliation, and peacemakers, living out Christ’s love for the world”, Rev. Sauca remarks, noting that people of good will are also people of other faiths, or people with no religion “who share today this compassionate love for their neighbours and especially for the most vulnerable, and live out in their daily lives the values of the kingdom.”

“People of good will are those from different ethnic backgrounds and cultures, who seek to live simply for the sake of the preservation and renewal of the whole creation. They are those who affirm today the dignity of every human being and resist the sins of Christian nationalism, racism, and xenophobia. They are our companions on the pilgrimage of justice, reconciliation, and unity.”

“With all good wishes for a blessed Christmas season, we invite you to welcome in faith and love the angels’ promise of peace on earth, and to live as a pilgrim on the path to justice, reconciliation, and unity”. the WCC Christmas Message concludes.

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20 December 2022, 14:07