The Catholic Bishops of Poland and Ukraine Call for Refraining from Hostilities

24-01-2022
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“Drawing on the experience of previous generations, we call upon those in power to refrain from hostilities. War is always a failure of humanity,” wrote the Catholic Bishops of Poland and Ukraine regarding the danger of hostilities in Ukraine.

The Bishops of Poland and Ukraine stressed that they are concerned about the fact that talks between Russia and the West have not led to an agreement. “The occupation of Donbas and Crimea has shown that the Russian Federation—in its violation of Ukraine’s national sovereignty and territorial integrity—disregards the binding rules of international law. The current situation represents a great danger for the countries of Central and Eastern Europe and the entire European continent, which may destroy the progress made so far by many generations in building a peaceful order and unity in Europe,ˮ underscored the Bishops.

In their appeal, they recalled that “totalitarian regimes of the twentieth century led the world to the tragic experience of war and political terror while ignoring the authority of God.ˮ “Today, too, we want to make it clear that any war is a tragedy and can never be an adequate means of solving international problems,ˮ they wrote. “In the final analysis, war is always a failure of humanity. It is an expression of barbarism and quite an ineffective tool for resolving disagreements,ˮ we read in the Appeal. The Bishops called all warfare in reference to the Constitution Gaudium et Spes „a crime against God and man, which merits firm and unequivocal condemnation.” They also recalled the teaching contained in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, where we read that “the extermination of a people, nation, or ethnic minority must be condemned as a mortal sin. One is morally bound to resist orders that command genocideˮ (CCC 2313).

The bishops also stressed the need to seek alternatives to war for resolving international conflicts. „drawing on the experience of previous generations, we call upon those in power to refrain from hostilities. We encourage leaders to immediately withdraw from the path of ultimatums and the use of other countries as bargaining chips. Differences in interests must be resolved not by the use of arms, but through agreements. The international community should unite in solidarity and actively support endangered society in all possible ways,ˮ they wrote. They added that any differences in interests must be resolved should be resolved through agreements. “The international community should unite in solidarity and actively support endangered society in all possible ways,ˮ we read Iin the document.

In their own name and in the name of their communities, the bishops recalled that promoting and building peace in the world is an integral part of the Church’s mission and an expression of Christian faith in God’s love for every human being. “The present situation demands Christians of the Eastern and Western tradition to assume their full responsibility for the present and future of our continent and to be ready to make sacrifices in defense of the communities of family, nation, and state,ˮ they wrote.

In the last part of the Appeal, the Bishops of Poland and Ukraine invited everyone to join in a prayer for peace written by St. John Paul II, which ends with these words: „ Father, grant to our time days of peace. Let there be no more war.ˮ

The appeal to seek dialogue and agreement was signed by: Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk, Head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church; Archbishop Stanisław Gądecki, President of the Polish Bishops’ Conference; Archbishop Mieczysław Mokrzycki, Acting President of the Ukrainian Bishops’ Conference; Archbishop Eugeniusz Popowicz, Metropolitan of PrzemyslWarsaw of the Greek Catholic Church in Poland; Bishop Nil Luszczak, Apostolic Administrator sede vacante of the Greek Catholic Eparchy of Mukachevo sui iuris.

Press Office of the Polish Bishops’ Conference

We are publishing the full text of the Appeal:

APPEAL
OF THE CATHOLIC BISHOPS OF POLAND AND UKRAINE
TO SEEK DIALOGUE AND UNDERSTANDING
IN ORDER TO AVERT THE DANGER OF HOSTILITIES

We have received with concern the news that the recent series of talks between Russia and the West have not led to an agreement. In their speeches, the leaders of many countries point to Russia’s increasing pressure on Ukraine, as massive armaments and troops are gathered on its border. The occupation of Donbas and Crimea has shown that the Russian Federation—in its violation of Ukraine’s national sovereignty and territorial integrity—disregards the binding rules of international law. The current situation represents a great danger for the countries of Central and Eastern Europe and the entire European continent, which may destroy the progress made so far by many generations in building a peaceful order and unity in Europe.

  1. Totalitarian regimes of the twentieth century led the world to the tragic experience of war and political terror while ignoring the authority of God. In the name of false ideologies, whole nations were condemned to annihilation, respect for human dignity was violated, and the essence of the exercise of political power was reduced to violence alone.

Today, too, we want to make it clear that any war is a tragedy and can never be an adequate means of solving international problems. Never has it been and never will be an adequate solution because it generates new and more serious conflicts. When war breaks out, it turns into “senseless slaughter,” a “risk from which there is no turning back,” destroying the present and threatening people’s future: “Through peace, nothing is lost, through war everything can be lost”. In the final analysis, war is always a failure of humanity. It is an expression of barbarism and quite an ineffective tool for resolving disagreements. Pope Paul VI, in his address to the 1978 Session of the United Nations Conference on Disarmament, called war “a supremely irrational and morally unacceptable means of regulating the relationships between States.”

“Every act of war directed to the indiscriminate destruction of whole cities or vast areas with their inhabitants is a crime against God and man, which merits firm and unequivocal condemnation” (Gaudium et Spes, 80).

“Actions deliberately contrary to the law of nations and to its universal principles are crimes, as are the orders that command such actions. Blind obedience does not suffice to excuse those who carry them out. Thus, the extermination of a people, nation, or ethnic minority must be condemned as a mortal sin. One is morally bound to resist orders that command genocide” (CCC 2313).

  1. Today, the quest for alternatives to war in resolving international conflicts has become an urgent necessity, since the terrifying power of the means of destruction are now in the hands of even medium and small powers, and the increasingly strong ties existing between the peoples of the whole earth make it difficult, if not practically impossible, to limit the effects of any conflict. Therefore, drawing on the experience of previous generations, we call upon those in power to refrain from hostilities. We encourage leaders to immediately withdraw from the path of ultimatums and the use of other countries as bargaining chips. Differences in interests must be resolved not by the use of arms, but through agreements. The international community should unite in solidarity and actively support endangered society in all possible ways.
  2. In our name and the name of our communities, we recall that “The promotion of peace in the world is an integral part of the Church’s mission of continuing Christ’s work of redemption on earth. In fact, the Church is, in Christ, a “‘sacrament’ or sign and instrument of peace in the world and for the world.” The promotion of true peace is an expression of Christian faith in the love that God has for every human being. From a liberating faith in God’s love, there arises a new vision of the world and a new way of approaching others, whether the other is an individual or an entire people. It is a faith that transforms and renews life, inspired by the peace that Christ left to his disciples (cf. Jn 14:27)” (CDSC 516). The Judeo-Christian culture is founded on the values of faith, hope, and love, as well as truth, beauty, and goodness, without which there cannot and will not be a lasting peaceful future. The present situation demands Christians of the Eastern and Western tradition to assume their full responsibility for the present and future of our continent and to be ready to make sacrifices in defense of the communities of family, nation, and state.
  3. We, therefore, invite everyone to join us in common prayer: “God of our fathers, great and merciful! Lord of life and peace, Father of all people. Your will is peace, not anguish. Condemn wars and abolish the pride of the violent. You sent your Son Jesus Christ to proclaim peace to those who are near and those who are far, and to unite people of all races and generations into one family.

Hear the cry of all your children, the anguished plea of all humanity. Let there be no more war—an evil adventure from which there is no turning back, let there be no more war—a maelstrom of struggle and violence. Grant that the war […] which threatens your creatures in heaven, on earth, and at sea may cease.

With Mary, Mother of Jesus and our Mother, we implore you: speak to the hearts of those responsible for the fate of nations. Destroy the logic of retaliation and revenge, and grant, through the Holy Spirit, innovative solutions that are generous and noble, in dialogue and patient waiting—solutions more fruitful than violent warfare.

Father, grant to our time days of peace. Let there be no more war. Amen.” (St. John Paul II)

Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk
Head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church

Archbishop Stanisław Gądecki
President of the Polish Bishops’ Conference

Archbishop Mieczysław Mokrzycki
Acting President of the Ukrainian Bishops’ Conference

Archbishop Eugeniusz Popowicz
Metropolitan of Przemysl – Warsaw of the Greek Catholic Church in Poland

Bishop Nil Luszczak
Apostolic Administrator sede vacante
of the Greek Catholic Eparchy of Mukachevo sui iuris

Kyiv – Warsaw – Lviv – Uzhorod, 24 January 2022