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.
In a letter translated into Russian and Ukrainian, the Archbishop of Poznań once again reiterates that “any war is a tragedy for humanity".
“Thousands of people die. Many of them on both sides remain handicapped and millions carry inner wounds that are difficult to heal.”
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”.
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”.
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”.
Also, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, speaking in Kyiv on Monday ahead of a visit to Moscow, played down the prospect of Ukraine joining Nato in the near future — one of Russia's main concerns — by saying this was "not on the order paper".