Catholic leaders around the world have offered prayers for Ukraine as the beleaguered nation faces a Russian invasion.
From the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has issued a statement on Ukraine:
“On behalf of my brother bishops, I echo the Holy Father’s call for prayer and fasting to end the war in Ukraine. In times of trouble, we call on the tender mercy of God … to guide our feet to the way of peace (Lk 1:78-79). May our prayers, joined with those of people around the world, help guide those waging war to end the meaningless suffering and restore peace. Our Lady, Queen of Peace, pray for us.”
From the Board of Directors of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops
The Board of Directors of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) condemns the escalation of tensions and violence in Ukraine caused by the invasion of Russia, which occurred Thursday, February 24, 2022, in the form of militarization and shelling of various Ukrainian cities.
In solidarity with the head of the Ukrainian Catholic Church, His Beatitude Sviatoslav Shevchuk, in union with the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, the people of Ukraine, and Canadians of Ukrainian origin and descent, we encourage the faithful and all persons of goodwill to pray for the imminent restoration of peace, dialogue and human fraternity.
Mindful of the unfortunate lessons about violence that we have all learned throughout human history, we implore all stakeholders to find non-violent solutions to resolve disputes and disagreements. The use of military force does not promote dialogue and peace; on the contrary, it endangers innocent human life, the dignity of the human person, as well as the safety of those caught up in this conflict.
Jesus came to bring the gift of peace, and it is through him that new avenues of dialogue can open up, even when all other avenues seem closed. Together with Pope Francis, who has entrusted this situation to the intercession of Mary, the Mother of God, we ask Our Lady, through her powerful intercession, to open hearts so that anger, resentment, and division may be cured and that any further rise in unnecessary violence can be avoided.
From the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales
The Bishop of Plymouth, Bishop Mark O’Toole, strongly urged all Catholics to go to Mass this Ash Wednesday to pray for peace in Ukraine.
This follows Pope Francis’ call to observe Ash Wednesday, 2 March, as a Day of Prayer and Fasting for Peace.
“We all feel somewhat impotent,” said the Chair of the Department of Evangelisation and Discipleship at the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales in a Pastoral Message being sent to parishes in the Diocese of Plymouth today. The disciplines of Prayer, Fasting, and Almsgiving “have a particular focus for us,” he said, “as we link these spiritual weapons to the reality of what we are living through in Europe at this time.“
The Bishop urges all Catholics to pick up the weapon of prayer: “Physical attendance at Mass, for those who are able, can be a practice that is lived in these days as an act of solidarity with our brothers and sisters who are suffering.”
He said that the weapon of fasting: “is an act of solidarity with those who are poor.” He described: “how shocking it has been for us to see the scenes of panic food and fuel-buying in Ukraine, of the very real sacrifices forced on people as a result of war. Fasting brings us closer to them.”
And the weapon of almsgiving helps us to be in solidarity with “the poorest in our communities” and “more sensitive to the needs of our neighbors, both at home and in Ukraine.”
His hope is that “our countries will be generous in receiving these desperate brothers and sisters fleeing for safety from war in their homeland.”
From the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference
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 realize how much we take peace for granted.”
From the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines
Catholic leaders in the Philippines joined people around the world in praying for peace to stop the Ukraine crisis.
In a brief statement on Thursday, the Archdiocese of Manila said it is one in praying for Ukraine and its people.
“May the Lord guide and protect them against war. May the Blessed Mother keep them safe under the mantle of her protection,” the archdiocese wrote on its Facebook page.
In the Diocese of Bayombong, Bishop Jose Elmer Mangalinao enjoined the faithful to heed Pope Francis’ invitation to make March 2, Ash Wednesday, a day of fasting and prayer for peace.
“Let us invite our families, friends, communities, and parishioners to offer prayers on Ash Wednesday for peace and the end of the war between Russia and Ukraine,” Magalinao said.
“Let us also ask for the intercession of our Mother Mary, the Queen of Peace, to preserve our world from the madness of violence and war,” he added.
Russia launched an attack on Ukraine on Thursday after Russian President Vladimir Putin said in a televised address that he had approved a “special military operation”.
He called on Kyiv’s military to lay down their arms and threatened severe retaliation against countries that tried to intervene.
Pope Francis during the general audience in the Vatican on Feb. 23 made an appeal for peace in Ukraine, saying that the threat of war had caused “great pain in my heart”.
“Despite the diplomatic efforts of the last few weeks,” the pope said, “increasingly alarming scenarios are opening up,” with many people all over the world feeling anguish and pain.
He prayed that “all the parties involved refrain from any action that would cause even more suffering to the people, destabilizing coexistence between nations and bringing international law into disrepute.”
The pope also invited everyone to make March 2, 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,” he said.