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Avellon Williams 

VATICAN CITY – Pope Francis encouraged people to pray and fast for a peaceful resolution of the conflict in Ukraine on Ash Wednesday as tensions mounted throughout the world.

As he concluded his general audience on Feb. 23, the pope urged people to pray and fast to fight the “diabolical insistence, the diabolical senseless violence” that is affecting the world today.

Pope Francis urge believers to prayer and fast /Courtesy/

“I invite everyone to make March 2, Ash Wednesday, a day of fasting for peace,” he said.

“I encourage believers in a special way to devote themselves intensely to prayer and fasting on that day. May the Queen of Peace protect the world from the folly of war.”

In his appeal, the Pope said he felt “anguish and concern” after Russian President Vladimir Putin recognized the independence of Donetsk and Luhansk in eastern Ukraine.

In his speech, the pope said that due to the “alarming” developments in the region, “once again, the peace of all is threatened by partisan interests.

“I urge those with political responsibilities to examine their conscience before God, who is the God of peace and not war, who is the father of all and not only of some, who wants us to be brothers and sisters and not enemies,” he said.

“I call upon all people of goodwill to not ignore the suffering of the Ukrainian people brought on by Russian military aggression.”


In addition, he urged world leaders to “refrain from any action that would further harm the people, destabilize the coexistence between nations, and discredit international law.”

Russia’s recognition of the two breakaway regions’ independence was viewed by Western leaders as a violation of international law protecting Ukraine’s territorial integrity and as a move that could lead to a Russian invasion of eastern Ukraine.

As a result of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s actions, the United States, the United Kingdom, and the European Union announced sanctions against several Russian banks and institutions.

Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk /Courtesy/

According to a statement released on Feb. 22, the head of the Ukrainian Catholic Church, Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk, Putin’s recognition of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions has caused “irreparable damage” to “the logic of international relations.”

Furthermore, he said, the Russian president “damaged the foundation of a long-term process of restoring peace in Ukraine” and “cleared the way for a new wave of military aggression against our state.”

“Today, all of humanity has been placed in danger,” he said because Putin’s action asserts that “the powerful have a right to impose themselves on whomever they wish, with no regard for the rule of law.”

Archbishop Shevchuk reminded world leaders of their duty and responsibility “to actively work to avert war and protect a just peace.”

“I call upon all people of goodwill to not ignore the suffering of the Ukrainian people brought on by Russian military aggression,” he said. “We are a people who love peace. And precisely for that reason, we are ready to defend it and fight for it.”

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Avellon Williams