‘Prayer and fasting for Ukraine’ – Pope
Pope Francis and the Irish Bishops’ Conference are speaking out on the Russian invasion of Ukraine. They express their heartache and distress for the current crisis, represent the pressing concerns of Christians, and declare to make Ash Wednesday a Day of Fasting for Peace in Ukraine.
Pope Francis, during a General Audience in Rome on 23 February, said:
“My heart aches greatly at the worsening situation in Ukraine. Despite the diplomatic efforts of the last few weeks, increasingly alarming scenarios are opening up. Like me, many people all over the world are feeling anguish and concern. Once again the peace of all is threatened by partisan interests.
“I would like 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 is the Father of all, not just of some, who wants us to be brothers and not enemies.
“I pray that all the parties involved refrain from any action that would cause even more suffering to the people, destabilising coexistence between nations and bringing international law into disrepute.”
Bishop Alan McGuckian SJ, Chair of the Bishops’ Council for Justice and Peace, has published the following statement asking for prayers for the people of Ukraine:
“We keep the people of Ukraine in our prayers at this time. We also hold in prayer all leaders who have a duty to return to the table of peacebuilding in this time of great anxiety and challenge for all of Europe and particularly the peoples of the countries involved.
“This is the first invasion in Europe since 1945. Indeed, until a few weeks ago it seemed unthinkable that any country would be invaded by another. It makes us realise how much we take peace for granted.”
Bishop Donal McKeown, Bishop of Derry, preached at Mass in the Cathedral of Saint Eugene on 27 February. He said:
“The horrible events in Ukraine ask our western states what is it that they stand for. Amongst the threats to our society is not just a rampant Russian war in Central Europe, but the fact that liberal democracies look like little more than economic or industrial entities. Does Europe have any pretence at virtue or at generosity that goes beyond self-interest?”
Archbishop Eamon Martin, Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland, issued a statement asking for prayer and sacrifice this Lent for the people of Ukraine. He said:
“It is alarming to think that despite the lessons learned last century in Europe about the horrors of war, that our continent could so easily be plunged back into chaos and uncertainty.
“The people of Ireland are well aware that we can never take peace for granted. We must always continue work for peace, to pray for peace and to make sacrifices for peace.”
Pope Francis invited everyone to make Ash Wednesday a Day of Fasting for Peace in Ukraine.
“And now I would like to appeal to everyone, believers and non-believers alike. Jesus taught us that the diabolical senselessness of violence is answered with God’s weapons, with prayer and fasting. I invite everyone to make next 2 March, Ash Wednesday, a Day of Fasting for Peace.
“I encourage believers in a special way to dedicate themselves intensely to prayer and fasting on that day. May the Queen of Peace preserve the world from the madness of war.”
Archbishop Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, invited all Christians to join him in ‘A Prayer for Ukraine’. He said:
God of peace and justice,
we pray for the people of Ukraine today.
We pray for peace and the laying down of weapons.
We pray for all those who fear for tomorrow,
that your Spirit of comfort would draw near to them.
We pray for those with power over war or peace,
for wisdom, discernment and compassion to guide their decisions.
Above all, we pray for all your precious children, at risk and in fear,
that you would hold and protect them.
We pray in the name of Jesus, the Prince of Peace.
Photo: Frankie Fouganthin (CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons »)