Pope upholds Ukrainian interfaith efforts as concrete testimony of peace
Pope Francis thanked members of the Ukrainian Council of Churches and Religious Organizations (UCCRO) for their work describing their witness as a “concrete testimony of peace in a country suffering from war.”
Addressing a UCCRO delegation before the General Audience on Wednesday, the Pope upheld the collaboration of the member groups, whom he said, together support those in need, defend the rights of the faithful of all denominations and advocate for the respect of human rights.
“I give thanks to God because this meeting enables me, in some way, to have close contact with the Ukrainian people, who have always been present in my prayers during these months.”
Established in 1996, the UCCRO has representatives of 15 churches and religious organizations and 1 interchurch organization, including Orthodox, Greek and Roman Catholic, Protestant and Evangelical churches as well as Jewish and Muslim religious unions, and represents more than 90% of all religious organizations in Ukraine.
The Pope noted that the interdenominational reality represented by the delegation is able to participate fully in the life of the country, trying to respond to the social challenges, with public interventions and various activities, which “in recent times are necessarily linked to the dramatic current situation.”
“I want to tell you that I am with you in being close to and supporting families, children, the elderly, the sick, the most fragile people.”
“I am with you,” he continued, “in defending the rights of the faithful of every religious community, especially those who suffer abuse and persecution. I am with you in your efforts to assist prisoners and those detained for political reasons. I encourage your efforts to re-establish respect by all for the principles and norms of international law and fundamental human rights.”
Interreligious collaboration a grace from God
The Pope upheld interreligious collaboration saying he considers it "a grace from God that all these initiatives are decided and carried out together, as brothers."
“This is a concrete testimony of peace in a country suffering from war,” he said.
Preparing for a tomorrow of peace
“Your action, carried out with tenacity and courage, effectively prepares for tomorrow, a tomorrow of peace, in which the economic and political interests that generate war will finally give way to the common good of peoples,” he said.
Pope Francis concluded assuring those present that every day he prays for peace and for the beloved Ukrainian people.