February 15, 2022



1. FROM ROME - Speaking Sunday at the Angelus in St. Peter's Square on Sunday 13 February 2022, Pope Francis said the news coming out of Ukraine is "very worrying". He entrusted the situation to the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and appealed to political leaders to spare no effort to seek out peace.

And he invited everyone to pray in silence for a moment so that peace might prevail. (source: VaticanNews)

The Pope's Liaison in Ukraine - The importance of praying together with other Churches in both countries to avert war has also been emphasized by the Vatican Nuncio to Ukraine, Archbishop Visvaldas Kulbokas. Speaking with Vatican News, the prelate remarked that the more Churches are united and understand each other, the stronger they are able to effectively bear witness to the Gospel. "The mission of the Church is to consider everyone as brothers, so when we speak of dialogue and when we pray for dialogue, as a Church we know that it is our mission to illuminate dialogue", he said. "When I pray for peace, I know only too well that at any moment our Lord Jesus is capable of enlightening one or the other politician, one or the other military, and change their decisions radically".

The Vatican Secretary of State - Cardinal Pietro Parolin assured the Head of the Ukrainian Catholic Church, His Beatitude Sviatoslav and all the people of Ukraine of the "support of the Holy See, our solidarity and assurance of prayer for all of you" [Source HERE]

2. FROM CONSTANTINOPLE - The Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew called on all parties to follow the path of dialogue to achieve "peace, stability and justice" in Ukraine. He called on all religious leaders, politicians and people of good will to avoid rhetorical statements. The use of force is not the answer and can only cause "war and violence, sorrow and death". A war in Europe could turn into a third world war. His Holiness stressed that we must strongly oppose the "possibility of a new war in Europe, resulting from the escalation of violent rhetoric and militarization of the borders between Russia and Ukraine, [and which] should be unequivocally opposed. We call for enduring peace, stability and justice in the region.

"Peace is a matter of choice and must be shared by all the forces engaged in this extremely complex and sensitive geopolitical context. The duty of us all is to pray for and actively contribute to a peaceful resolution of conflict situations and to the unconditional respect and protection of human rights and dignity. Human conflict may very well be inevitable in this fallen and broken world; but war and violence are certainly to be opposed with every fiber of our being."

Patriarch Bartholomew also mentioned "our beloved brother" Pope Francis who recently said, "Let us not forget, war is madness." [see full article at AsiaNews]

3. FROM THE UNITED STATES - The Most Rev. Borys Gudziak, Archbishop-Metropolitan for Ukrainian Catholic Archeparchy of Philadelphia, speaks from Ukraine with Gina Christian of CatholicPhilly.com on the current crisis there, and how Ukrainians are facing it with faith, determination, and courage. (Interview recorded Feb. 9, 2022. Those wanting to support by donating toward the humanitarian in Ukraine, may visit the website of the the Canadian offices of the Catholic Near East Welfare Association [HERE]

4. FROM POLAND - On the Feast of Saints Cyril and Methodius, the head of the Catholic Polish Church addresses a letter to Christian Russian and Ukrainian leaders calling on them to join in prayer for peace in Ukraine. Recipients of the letter include Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia, the two Orthodox Primates of Ukraine as well as the Head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church and Archbishop Paolo Pezzi, President of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Russia. As the winds of war threaten Eastern Europe, the President of the Polish Bishops' Conference, Archbishop Stanisław Gądecki, is calling both Catholic and Orthodox believers in Poland, Russia and Ukraine to join in fervent prayer that armed conflict might be averted.

A tragedy for humanity - In a letter translated into Russian and Ukrainian, the Archbishop of Poznań once again reiterates that "any war is a tragedy for humanity".

Archbishop Gądecki says the fact that Ukrainians and Russians are both Christian and Slavic peoples adds to the tragedy: "From both the human and divine point of view - he says - these two peoples should have much in common and tend not to hatred, but to mutual respect and friendship. However, an indispensable condition is respect for the rights of peoples, including the right to self-determination and territorial integrity".

Wars are useless - Citing Pope Saint John Paul II's words in his Message for the World Day of Peace of 2000, the Polish prelate further recalls that the twentieth century "bequeathed to us the warning that wars are often the cause of further wars because they fuel deep hatred, create situations of injustice and trample upon people's dignity and rights".

Common history and faith - Noting that Poland Russia and Ukraine have "a common history and Christian faith", Archbishop Gądecki, therefore, calls on the Polish faithful "to raise their heartfelt prayer" to God for peace in Ukraine.

Conversion of hearts - He then turns to the Orthodox and Catholic religious leaders of both Ukraine and Russia, calling upon them to address similar appeals to their respective faithful "so that the Lord may convert the hearts of rulers from the desire of war and destruction, to mercy and peace".

"May the Saints Cyril and Methodius, apostles of the Slavs, obtain from God the gift of peace for Europe", the letter concludes. [Polish audio report HERE] (English source: VaticanNews)

5. FROM RUSSIA? - Though the situation remains tense, Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov offered a glimmer of hope on Monday by telling President Vladimir Putin they should have more time to discuss US proposals for the future of European security. In a televised meeting, Mr Putin was told that diplomatic talks had "not yet been exhausted". The Russian Defence Minister, Sergei Shoigu, suggested that the wargame exercises at the Ukrainian border were winding down a bit (?). A report from the IndianExpress online news service offers these and several other perspectives of the Ukraine crisis, including the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelinsky suggesting that perhaps Ukraine could put on a back-burner their Nato membership ambitions. [Source HERE]

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