Polish and Ukrainian Bishops Warn of Danger to Europe

Appeal for Dialogue to End Russian Military Pressure on Ukraine

Polish and Ukrainian Bishops
Mons. Szewczuk y Mons. Gadecki ©episkopat.pl

Polish and Ukrainian Bishops warn that the current situation represents a great danger for Europe as Russia continues to mount military pressure on Ukraine.

“The current situation represents a great danger for the countries of Central and Eastern Europe and the entire European continent, which may destroy the progress made so far by many generations in building a peaceful order and unity in Europe,” emphasize the Bishops of Poland and Ukraine in their appeal to seek dialogue and understanding to avert the danger of military action.

The Bishops indicate that they received with concern the news that the recent series of talks between Russia and the West have not led to an agreement; they encourage people to pray together for peace. “In their speeches, the leaders of many countries point to Russia’s increasing pressure on Ukraine, as massive armaments and troops are gathered on its border. The occupation of Donbas and Crimea has shown that the Russian Federation—in its violation of Ukraine’s national sovereignty and territorial integrity—disregards the binding rules of international law,” we read in the Appeal.

Its authors point out that “today, the quest for alternatives to war in resolving international conflicts has become an urgent necessity since the terrifying power of the means of destruction are now in the hands of even medium and small powers, and the increasingly strong ties existing between the peoples of the whole earth make it difficult, if not practically impossible, to limit the effects of any conflict.”

“Drawing on the experience of previous generations, we call upon those in power to refrain from hostilities. We encourage leaders to immediately withdraw from the path of ultimatums and the use of other countries as bargaining chips. Differences in interests must be resolved not by the use of arms, but through agreements. The international community should unite in solidarity and actively support endangered society in all possible ways,” wrote the Bishops of Poland and Ukraine.

They also recalled that the totalitarian regimes of the 20th century brought the world the tragic experience of wars and political terror, while disregarding the authority of God. “In the name of false ideologies, whole nations were condemned to annihilation, respect for human dignity was violated, and the essence of the exercise of political power was reduced to violence alone. Today, too, we want to make it clear that any war is a tragedy and can never be an adequate means of solving international problems. Never has it been and never will be an adequate solution because it generates new and more serious conflicts,” they added.

The authors of the Appeal recalled the words of the Pope St. Paul VI, who during his speech at the 1978 Session of the UN Conference on Disarmament called war “a supremely irrational and morally unacceptable means of regulating the relationships between States.” They also recalled the prayer of St. John Paul II: “Father, grant to our time days of peace. Let there be no more war. Amen.”

“The Judeo-Christian culture is founded on the values of faith, hope, and love, as well as truth, beauty, and goodness, without which there cannot and will not be a lasting peaceful future. The present situation demands Christians of the Eastern and Western tradition to assume their full responsibility for the present and future of our continent and to be ready to make sacrifices in defense of the communities of family, nation, and state,” noted the Bishops of Poland and Ukraine. They also stressed that, according to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, “Actions deliberately contrary to the law of nations and to its universal principles are crimes, as are the orders that command such actions.”

The appeal was signed by: Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk, Head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church; Archbishop Stanisław Gądecki, President of the Polish Bishops’ Conference; Archbishop Mieczysław Mokrzycki, Vice President of the Ukrainian Bishops’ Conference; Archbishop Eugeniusz Popowicz, Metropolitan of Przemysl – Warsaw of the Greek Catholic Church in Poland; Bishop Nil Luszczak, Apostolic Administrator Sede Vacante Eparchy of Mukachevo, Catholic Church of the Byzantine-Ruthenian Rite in Ukraine.

Pope Francis, too, during Sunday’s Angelus prayer, once again referred to the troubling tensions on the Ukrainian-Russian border and suggested that people of good will pray for peace this Wednesday, January 26th. “I am following with concern the increase of tensions that threaten to inflict a new blow to the peace in Ukraine, and call into question the security of the European continent, with wider repercussions. I make a heartfelt appeal to all people of good will, that they may raise prayers to God Almighty, that every political action and initiative may serve human brotherhood, rather than partisan interests. Those who pursue their own interests, to the detriment of others, disregard their human vocation, as we were all created as brothers and sisters. For this reason, and with concern, given the current tensions, I propose that next Wednesday, January 26th be a day of prayer for peace,” said the Holy Father said.