Indiscriminate destruction in Ukraine is a ‘crime,’ says Pope Francis

Pope Francis embraces Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk, major archbishop of Kyiv-Halych and head of the Ukrainian Catholic Church, during a meeting with members of the Eastern-rite Ukrainian Catholic bishops' synod in a meeting room in the Vatican audience hall Sept. 6, 2023. (CNS photo/Vatican Media)

By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service

[Vatican City – CNS] – In a message to an ecumenical meeting at a historic Benedictine abbey in Hungary, Pope Francis said Russia’s war on Ukraine is a reminder of what the Second Vatican Council taught: “Any act of war aimed indiscriminately at the destruction of entire cities or of extensive areas along with their population is a crime against God and man himself.”

Such war “merits unequivocal and unhesitating condemnation,” the pope continued, quoting Vatican II’s Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World.

In the message released Sept. 22, Pope Francis told those gathered for the ecumenical meeting at Hungary’s ancient Pannonhalma Archabbey that each person has a role to play in bringing peace to the world.

“At this time, the war in Ukraine has dramatically called us to open our eyes and hearts to so many peoples suffering from war,” he said. “Let each of us remain on the path of peace; let us each become messengers and servants of peace in the place where we live and work! Above all, let us pray for peace!”

The Benedictine monastic tradition and its Rule of St. Benedict, although written for monks and monastery communities, can be “an excellent guide for a conscious and practical commitment to peace,” the pope wrote.

St. Benedict was “very lucid about the differences and inequalities that exist among community members,” the pope said. His rule for monastic life showed that he recognized “the complexity of linguistic, ethnic and cultural traits, which is both an asset and a potential for conflict. Yet, he has a serene and peaceful outlook because he is fully convinced of the equal dignity and value of all human beings.”

His admonition that all monasteries and all monks must welcome the stranger and the foreigner and “honor” all men and women “is the foundation of peace in the monastic community, as well as in interpersonal, social and international relations,” the pope said. And his hope that members of the community would try to outdo each other in doing good also means he urges them “to take the first step in certain difficult situations.”

“St. Benedict’s vision of peace is not utopian, but points to a path that God’s friendship with people has already traced and that, nevertheless, must be walked by each person and the community step by step,” he said.

It is a matter of seeking justice, he said, and not of trying to build blocs of power.


© OSV News / Our Sunday Visitor, Inc. 2023 – from CNS Vatican bureau, used with permission

Vatican asks U.N. Security Council to join efforts for peace in Ukraine

By Justin McLellan, Catholic News Service

[Vatican City – CNS] – The Vatican urged members of the U.N. Security Council to be “creative and courageous artisans of peace and weavers of constructive dialogue” to find a peaceful solution to the war in Ukraine.

Addressing a meeting of the U.N. Security Council in New York Sept. 20, Archbishop Paul R. Gallagher, the Vatican’s foreign minister, said today the “entire international community, more than ever, cannot surrender itself and let this issue pass in silence.”

“The solution to the war in Ukraine is not only a matter for Ukraine itself,” he said. “All member states of the United Nations, and especially those of the Security Council, are called upon to join efforts in the search for a just and lasting peace for Ukraine as an important element of the global peace of which the world thirsts.”

The Security Council meeting included speeches from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. In his address, Zelenskyy criticized the council’s structure which gives five countries — the United States, China, France, Great Britain and Russia — the power to veto any council resolution or decision, saying that Russia’s misuse of the veto power is “to the detriment of all other U.N. members.”

Archbishop Gallagher did not discuss the subject of veto power, but said it is “undeniable that the Russian attack on Ukraine has jeopardized the entire global order which arose after World War II” and cited its negative consequences in the humanitarian, agricultural, ecological, military, nuclear, religious and other spheres that are “altogether fundamental elements of the architecture of world security.”

“If this war is not stopped and peace is not sought at every turn, the whole world risks plunging into even deeper crises,” he said.

The archbishop noted that the Holy See “is close to Ukraine and fully upholds its territorial integrity” while it engages in humanitarian initiatives to support the Ukrainian people. “It is before the eyes of everyone that those paying the highest price are civilians, simple people and above all, children, youth and the elderly.”

Archbishop Gallagher told the council that while achieving peace is possible, “it will surely come when there is a common commitment to implement it not only at the international, institutional level but also in our hearts and homes.”


© OSV News / Our Sunday Visitor, Inc. 2023 – from CNS Vatican bureau, used with permission