Catholic Bishops of Ukraine and Poland appeal to leaders to refrain from war
“It is with concern that we learn the news that the recent rounds of talks between Russia and the West have not led to an agreement,” write the heads of the Catholic Churches of Ukraine and Poland as they issue a heartfelt call to leaders to refrain from war.
Their appeal comes in the wake of that issued by Pope Francis during the Angelus in which he calls for a Day of Prayer for Peace on Wednesday, 26 January.
The statement signed by the Primate of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church and by the President of the Polish Bishops' Conference and by other members of the Bishops' Conferences, notes the growing pressure of Russian military forces on the Russian border with Ukraine, and expresses the belief that the current situation represents “a great threat to the countries of Central and Eastern Europe and the entire European continent.”
Today, Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk, Archbishop Stanisław Gądecki, and their brother bishops say in the statement, signed on 24 January, “We want to underline clearly that every war is a disgrace and can never be an appropriate way to solve international problems. It never has been and it never will be because it creates new, more serious conflicts.”
The "senseless slaughter of war"
They decry the "senseless slaughter" of war, "a risk from which there is no turning back" that destroys the present and threatens the future of people: "With peace nothing is lost, with war everything can be lost".
Ultimately, the prelates say, “War is always a defeat for humanity. It is an expression of barbarism and a rather ineffective tool for resolving misunderstandings.”
Quoting Pope St Paul VI who described war as “a crime against God and against humanity itself,” they underscore the need “to search for alternative methods to war to resolve international conflicts,” also in light of the “terrifying power of the instruments of destruction available to even medium and small powers and the ever-stronger ties existing between nations throughout the world today [that] make it difficult or even practically impossible to limit the effects of conflict.”
Fortified by the experience of previous generations, the Ukrainian and Polish bishops say: “we call on rulers to refrain from war. We call on leaders to withdraw ultimatums immediately and not to take advantage of other countries as bargaining chips. Any divergence of interests should be resolved not through the use of arms but through agreements.”
They also call on the international community to join efforts in solidarity and actively support those under threat in all possible ways.
They recall the fact that the promotion of peace is an integral part of the Church’s mission and invite everyone to join in common prayer:
“"God of our Fathers, great and merciful, Lord of peace and life, Father of all. You have plans for peace and not for affliction; you condemn wars and abate the pride of the violent. You sent your Son Jesus to proclaim peace to those near and far, to gather people of every race and race into one family. Hear the unanimous cry of your children, the heartfelt plea of all humanity: never again war, adventure without return, never again war, [...] which threatens your creatures in heaven, on earth and at sea. In communion with Mary, the Mother of Jesus, we implore you once again: speak to the hearts of those responsible for the fate of peoples, stop the logic of retaliation and revenge, suggest with your Spirit new solutions, generous and honorable gestures, spaces for dialogue and patient waiting that are more fruitful than the hasty deadlines of war. Father, grant our time days of peace. Never again war. Amen. (St. Pope John Paul II.)”