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Catholics in Europe react to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine

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Catholics across Europe have reacted to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine with expressions of solidarity with the Ukrainian people and prayers for peace.

“Today peace on the whole European continent and beyond is facing a serious threat,” Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich said Feb. 24.

Hollerich, who serves as the president of the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Union, said that he is deeply worried that the escalating Russian military actions in Ukraine have opened up “the alarming scenario of an armed conflict causing horrific human suffering, death and destruction.”

The Catholic cardinal called on EU leaders to “endorse measures promoting de-escalation … while avoiding any steps that could potentially reinforce the violent conflict.”

Archbishop Gintaras Grušas, the Lithuanian–American archbishop of Vilnius and the president of the Council of European Bishops’ Conferences, issued a statement urging the EU to “strive to end a war that would inevitably spread from Ukraine to neighboring states and become a threat to the whole of Europe.”

“The Churches in Europe strongly condemn what has happened tonight in Ukraine. We must act together, and with determination, to put an immediate end to the Russian aggression and to do everything possible to protect innocent women, men and children: in the name of God, stop now!” Grušas wrote.

Archbishop Stanisław Gądecki, the president of the Polish bishops’ conference, also condemned Russian President Vladimir Putin’s actions in Ukraine.

“I strongly condemn the actions of Russia and Vladimir Putin as an unacceptable and shameful act of barbarism directed against sovereignty,” Gądecki said in an appeal.

“At the same time – together with the whole Church in Poland – I express my solidarity with all Ukrainians, both in Poland and in Ukraine, assuring them of our closeness, prayer and availability to help,” he said.

Bishop Kenneth Nowakowski, the Ukrainian Catholic eparchial bishop of London, urged government leaders and those in positions of power to remain steadfast in support of “the innocent citizens of Ukraine.”

“The day that we have been hoping would never come has arrived,” Nowakowski said.

“This morning we woke up to hear the news that Russia has unleashed its troops into an invasion of Ukrainian soil as well as firing missiles into Ukrainian territory.”

“We place the people of Ukraine under the protection of the Holy Family, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, the Most Holy Mother of God and ever-virgin Mary, and the holy and righteous St Joseph the Betrothed,” he said.

Tetiana Stawnychy, the president of Caritas Ukraine, a Catholic charity, expressed concern that Ukraine is heading for a humanitarian catastrophe, adding that there were already 2.9 million people on both sides of the contact line who were in need of humanitarian assistance before the attack.

“The events which began early this morning will inevitably lead to a colossal humanitarian catastrophe,” Stawnychy said.

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