Nuncio to Ukraine: Pope‘s call for Easter truce a time to stop and look to Christ
By Linda Bordoni
Issuing yet another powerful appeal for peace in Ukraine, Pope Francis said “Let the weapons be silenced. Let the Easter truce begin.”
“Nothing,“ the Pope said on Palm Sunday, “is impossible for God: He can even bring an end to a war whose end is not in sight, a war that daily places before our eyes heinous massacres and atrocious cruelty committed against defenseless civilians.“
Expressing gratitude for the Pope‘s reiterated closeness, prayers and appeals for the country in which he serves as Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Visvaldas Kulbokas, told Vatican Radio the Easter truce is a time for us all to unite in prayer, but also for leaders to think about their actions and scale down military and political objectives in the name of peace and of the humanity Jesus died for.
We are in the month of April, and already on 2 April, our Muslim friends started the Ramadan period, a time for fasting, praying for peace and almsgiving. All these witnesses are very similar to those of Christians, [during the season of Lent]. Now, on 17 April we will celebrate Easter in our western tradition, and on 24 April we will celebrate Easter according to the eastern tradition.
It is very striking to see this terrible war in Ukraine is continuing. When we observe who is dying, we see there are more civil casualties than military casualties: that is completely unacceptable. All wars are unacceptable in themselves – the wars in Yugoslavia, Syria, Afghanistan, Libya, or here in Ukraine – war is always unacceptable.
Another thing that I observe, especially when listening to the media – in Russia, in Ukraine, in some European countries, in world countries - I see that the hatred against each other is not decreasing, but it is further increasing! That is one of the consequences of the war – that we enter into an evil situation where the war provokes even more hatred.
A time to focus on Christ
That is why Pope Francis said “Why do we only focus on the human goals of our lives?” especially if we are Christians – but not only Christians – we should focus on our God, and if we are Christians we should allow our Christ to win something in our lives. And Christ never brings war into our hearts or into our countries.
That is why Pope Francis invoked an Easter truce, adding that “weapons should be laid down,” and “those politicians should be disposed to make some sacrifice for the good of the people.”
Now, for the situation: we know very well who started the war. If this war is taking place in Ukraine, it is not Ukraine that started the war. So when we apply these words of the Holy Father, it is especially the Russian side which started this terrible war, that should consider what kind of sacrifices to their goals should they introduce because war in itself is not allowable, and from a Christian point of view, we should consider human lives and people’s rights above everything else – above our political views, our military views.
A time to reflect on one's actions
That is why Pope Francis is invoking more negotiations and more reflection. So the Easter truce should allow us to have more time, especially in the politicians' hearts, for thinking “What am I doing here in this world? What am I doing against other people? What am I provoking with my actions?”
I also want to add that here in Ukraine, all the Churches and all the religious organizations are united in solidarity; united in giving their best to the Ukrainian government. Because when we consider whose property is the land, whose property are our houses, it’s not only international law, it’s the ancient tradition of humanity that says that “if this is my house, if this is my country, I and my people should decide how we want to live, and what we want to choose for our country, for our lives.”
So already starting from this point of view of our property, which is a very natural law of human lives, all the religious organizations and Churches in Ukraine are united in condemning this war.
Q: You were pointing out that is an Easter truce in which Pope Francis asks that “it is not one to provide more weapons and pick up the combat again.” Are you hopeful that this is what might happen?
That is what we are obliged to do because there is no other solution. Because if we continue with this mentality of our political and military goals, the war will continue to increase in its intensity. Everybody should understand there is no military and political solution to this war. We should allow ourselves to put the spiritual and human dimensions into our reflections. And when Pope Francis insists “God should win this war” [it is] not with our political or military growth.
Q: You are the Pope’s representative in Ukraine. Do you have an appeal you would like to broadcast through our channels?
My wish and my appeal is that all those who believe in God should be united in condemning this war and each kind of war. We should be united in condemning any kind of aggression, now and in every situation, and that will give us and will give humanity a brighter future. That is my appeal.
Q: Thank you. Let’s hope that Easter, a time of rebirth, will truly be a time of rebirth for all of humanity…
Yes. We entrust this prayer to our Lord Jesus, to His suffering and Resurrection. Amen.