At the conclusion of Sunday’s midday prayer in the Vatican, Pope Francis , leader of the Catholic Church, called for an international day of “prayer for peace” in Ukraine. For such a day the pontiff proposed that next Wednesday, 26 January, according to Vatican News.
The pope expressed his concerns “ over the increasing tensions that threaten to overturn chances for peace in Ukraine.” Given the wider repercussions of any conflict, the pontiff was also concerned about security on the European continent in general.
“I make a heartfelt appeal to all people of goodwill to raise prayers to Almighty God that all political actions and initiatives may be at the service of human brotherhood rather than partisan interests,” Pope Francis said according to Vatican News.
- Catholic Bishops of Ukraine and Poland appealed for dialog to avoid the danger of war.
- Meanwhile, several Ukrainian Greek Catholic Bishops in Canada express “closeness to people in Ukraine” and call for solidarity.
- Also, the Ukrainian Catholic Bishops of the United States joined the call to pray for peace in Ukraine.
- Additionally, Gintaras Grušas , the President of the Council of European Bishops’ Conferences has expressed closeness to the Churches in Ukraine and to all its people, inviting the international community to offer its support to the country “in the face of the danger of a Russian military offensive.”
In the past, Pope Francis expressed his concern over the situation in Ukraine on multiple occasions, encouraging that dialog and negotiation might prevail in resolving the crisis. The pontiff had even met with the Ukrainian military in the Vatican in 2017.
Pope Francis met with Ukrainian servicemen on 24 May 2017. Photo: Bohdan Sus
The armed conflict in Ukraine’s easternmost historical region of the Donbas started in 2014 soon after Russia’s invasion and annexation of the Ukrainian Crimean peninsula. Since its beginning, the war claimed more than 13,000 lives and displaced almost 2 million people. The hostilities have been ongoing to this day.
In recent months, Russia massed at least 100,000 Russian troops near Ukraine’s borders within the occupied regions of Ukraine. Washington believes that Russia’s building up troops in preparation for an invasion, while Moscow denies such plans.
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