Christians unite in Ukraine appeal

Pope Francis has led calls among Christian leaders for peace in Ukraine.

As tensions were heightened this week with Russian troops becoming embroiled in its neighbour’s political situation, Pope Francis used his Angelus address last Sunday to urge peace in the country and for the international community to foster dialogue.

Expressing the hope that “all parts of the country will endeavour to overcome misunderstandings and build together the future of the nation, a peaceful solution,” the Pontiff added, “I address a pressing appeal to the international community to support all initiatives to promote dialogue and harmony.”

Reminding those gathered in St Peter’s Square of the commencement of Lent, Pope Francis said: “Humanity needs justice, reconciliation and peace, which can be achieved only by turning wholeheartedly to God, who is its source. May we begin Lent with a spirit of worship of God and fraternal solidarity with those who, in these times, they are most in need.”

Peace call

The Pope’s peace call was echoed by Christian leaders from across a host of former Soviet-controlled states, including Ukraine, who appealed for peace and dialogue among those currently divided in the country.

The Christian leaders of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Estonia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Ukraine called on citizens “to preserve in their hearts true love for the neighbours, for their human dignity and religious beliefs” while adding their willingness “to promote by prayer and deeds the fraternal dialogue and to contribute to the re-establishment of peace in the Ukrainian society”.

Offering an update from on the ground in Ukraine this week, Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk, leader of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church said that because of Russian moves, “we are wary” and warned that unless the international community engages more with the crisis, it had the potential to affect all of Europe.

“Europe must not isolate itself from these problems, because sooner or later they will affect every European,” he stated.