Archive photo of Archbishop Gallagher during his visit to Ukraine at the Memory Wall of fallen Ukrainian defenders in Kyiv Archive photo of Archbishop Gallagher during his visit to Ukraine at the Memory Wall of fallen Ukrainian defenders in Kyiv  (ANSA)

Archbishop Gallagher: 'War in Ukraine wake-up-call to humanity'

The Vatican Secretary for Relations with States reiterates Pope Francis’ pressing call not to forget the suffering of the people in war-stricken Ukraine and of his repeated appeals to international leaders to find a negotiated solution to the crisis.

By Linda Bordoni

According to Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, the war in Ukraine is a great “wake-up-call” to humanity and a pressing invitation to put the world on a constructive path that will help avoid other conflicts.

The Vatican Secretary for Relations with States’ words came on the sidelines of a meeting in which he participated in North Macedonia.

The “Prespa Forum Dialogue 2022”, in the city of Ohrid from 16 to 19 June, was held to discuss the future of the Western Balkans ahead of a high-level EU meeting in Brussels on the same subject on 23 June.

Speaking during an interview, the Archbishop answered questions about visit that, he said, also gave him the welcome opportunity to meet with the small but vibrant Catholic Community in North Macedonia, to better understand its challenges, and to affirm the good the diplomatic relations which exist between the Holy See and North Macedonia.

Listen to Archbishop Gallagher

In particular, the Vatican diplomat reflected on the ongoing war in Ukraine, which he personally witnessed during a visit to the invaded nation a few weeks ago.

Describing the conflict as “a great wake-up call to humanity”, because, he said, it took so many of us by surprise.

Archbishop Gallagher said many European citizens “thought that no war could ever take place on the old continent again after the Second World War with all the terrible losses and damage that that conflict brought about.”

“But it has happened again and therefore it is a cry to the rest of the world.”

If we want to avoid war, we must consolidate peace

First of all, he said, we have to pray and hope this terrible conflict will quickly come to an end, and “that it may help us to avoid other conflicts.”

“It's true,” he added, “that in the old world, in the ancient Roman world, they said ‘if you want to keep peace you prepare for war.’ I think if we want to avoid war, we have to consolidate peace.”

We have to listen to, and address the issues of injustice, of inequality and listen to the voices of the voiceless and what their problems are if we're going to avoid the expansion of this war, which is a terrible prospect.

Currently, Archbishop Gallagher explained, what most of the international community is working for, is to assist Ukraine in its efforts to defend its territory, and resolve this terrible aggression to which it has been subject.

But, he said, the international community “is also committed to avoid in the expansion of the war, which would be terrible with all sorts of terrible prospects. So we have to try and work on that.”

Pope Francis’ vision

The Archbishop recalled how Pope Francis has very clearly given a series of indications in the effort to avoid conflict and conserve peace.

“The Pope has pointed out three things that he believes are necessary, perhaps in almost any society, if we are to avoid conflict,” he said, bearing in mind that fighting inevitably “leads to greater expansion of conflict, hatred and potentially into conflict and war.”

First of all, Gallagher noted, the Pope says we should encourage dialogue between the generations.

Secondly, he talks about education as a key factor, and then of the need to work for freedom, responsibility and development.

“If we work on these fronts, we will be going a long way to avoiding situations which can lead to war. The other side of the coin being that it will also consolidate and guarantee peace,” he said.

The final thing that Pope Francis suggests is the respect for human dignity. This, the Archbishop said, “is at the very basis of Catholic teaching about relations, about how countries relate to each, how societies work together and how we achieve justice among people: human dignity.”

“As we can see in the terrible conflict, with the hundreds of thousands of deaths in Ukraine, human dignity is what is not being respected.”

22 June 2022, 17:02