By Vatican news staff reporter
Churches of all denominations across Europe have joined in firmly condemning Russian invasion of Ukraine, while praying for peace to prevail and expressing heartfelt solidarity with the Ukrainian people.
“We must act together and with determination to immediately put an end to the Russian aggression and do everything possible to protect innocent women, men and children: in the name of God stop now!”, wrote the president of the Council of European Episcopal Conferences (CCEE), Archbishop Gintaras Grušas of Vilnius in a message issued on Thursday, while attending the ongoing meeting of Bishops and Mayors of major cities of the Mediterranean in Floremce.
The prelate expressed the Council’s closeness to the victims and to all those suffering in the conflict, while confirming that the European bishops will join the global day of fasting and prayer Pope Francis has called for on Ash Wednesday, March 2.
For his part, Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich, President of the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Union (COMECE), urged the international community, including the EU, not to stop seeking a peaceful solution to the crisis through diplomatic dialogue, reminding that “war is a serious affront to human dignity and has no place” in Europe.
Cardinal Hollerich also appealed on European governments to “welcome refugees fleeing Ukraine and seeking international protection: “It is our vocation, our responsibility and our duty to welcome and protect them as brothers and sisters”, he said.
CEC, Lutherans, Methodists and Reformed
Other Christian Churches in Europe have also condemned the assault and are supporting the global day of prayer for Ukraine on March 2. The Lutheran World Federation (LWF), the World Communion of Reformed Churches (WCRC), the Conference of European Churches (CEC), and the World Methodist Council (WMC) have issued a joint invitation to an online prayer service at 17.00 CET that day. In the call to prayer for the people of Ukraine and the region, the four Christian communions note the military assault threatens the lives of Ukrainians, as well as peace throughout Europe and beyond. “The crisis is urgent and requires the attention and solidarity of the global Christian community”, they say.
The Anglican Church
The Church of England too has condemned the Russian attack on Ukraine and is calling on the faithful to join in prayer. In a joint statement Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and Archbishop of York Stephen Cottrell said “the horrific and unprovoked attack” is “an act of great evil” and urged Christians to make this Sunday a special day of prayer for Ukraine, Russia and for peace, while supporting the global day of prayer and fasting for peace on Ash Wednesday.