Christian Churches across Asia condemned the Russian invasion of Ukraine last week and called for an end to the conflict.
“Humanity is not destined for self-destruction,” read a statement from the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Japan.
“Differences in ideology, national purpose, and in what people seek must be resolved by other means than war or violence,” it added, saying that humanity “is worthy of peacefully resolving differences and conflicts.”
“We should say that resorting to war is neither inevitable nor indispensable in front of the disaster that man makes when he starts wars,” read the statement said by Bishop Bernard Taiji Katsuya of Sapporo, president of the Catholic Council for Justice and Peace.
He said humanity in the 21st century is facing “serious problems,” such as “pandemics and climate change,” that it must solve together rather than through the “use military force.”
“I call on citizens around the world to stop the spread of war” and “minimize the damage,” said the Japanese prelate.
He called on governments around the world “to abandon the idea of war deterrence through military alliances” and urged them to make “the utmost efforts to build peace through dialogue.”
Bishop Stephen Chow of Hong Kong called on the faithful in the Chinese territory to pray for Ukraine, saying that the attack on Ukraine is “deeply disturbing to us.”
In a pastoral letter dated February 25, the bishop expressed deep sadness over the deaths of civilians and the destruction of homes.
He said the military action is crushing “the hope for peace and stability” of the Ukrainian people, which declared independence from the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics in 1991.
“We cannot ignore the pain that another pandemic of egoism and hegemonic mentality is inflicting on our world,” he said.
“As citizens of the global village, our well-being is intimately linked. Our prayers go out to those in Hong Kong and around the world who are suffering from these two pandemics,” said the prelate of Hong Kong.
He asked the faithful to pray that “God touches deeply the hearts of those with the power to help reverse this tragic trajectory and restore the hope for peace in our world.”
“The power of earnest prayers en masse can achieve what is beyond human imagination,” he said.
In the Philippines, the Archdiocese of Manila said it is one in praying for Ukraine and its people.
“May the Lord guide and protect them against war. May the Blessed Mother keep them safe under the mantle of her protection,” the archdiocese wrote on its Facebook page.
In the Diocese of Bayombong, Bishop Jose Elmer Mangalinao urged the faithful to heed Pope Francis’ invitation to make March 2, Ash Wednesday, a day of fasting and prayer for peace.
“Let us invite our families, friends, communities, and parishioners to offer prayers on Ash Wednesday for peace and the end of the war between Russia and Ukraine,” Bishop Magalinao said.
“Let us also ask for the intercession of our Mother Mary, the Queen of Peace, to preserve our world from the madness of violence and war,” he added.
In India, Archbishop Cardinal Oswald Gracias of Bombay, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India, said it is “a sad moment when there is conflict.”
“I do hope that peace prevails in that whole area” and that things do “not lead to escalation of [the] conflict or loss of life.”
“We really pray ardently that everybody sees the senselessness of violence and the necessity of peace to make a better world. The Church in India will pray, and I’m going to write to all the bishops,” he said.
The archbishop said a special prayer for Ukraine will be recited in all churches.
Russia launched an attack on Ukraine on Thursday last week after Russian President Vladimir Putin said in a televised address that he had approved a “special military operation.”
He called on Kyiv’s military to lay down their arms and threatened severe retaliation against countries that tried to intervene.
Pope Francis during the General Audience in the Vatican on February 23 made an appeal for peace in Ukraine, saying that the threat of war had caused “great pain in my heart.”
“Despite the diplomatic efforts of the last few weeks,” the pope said, “increasingly alarming scenarios are opening up,” with many people all over the world feeling anguish and pain.
He prayed that “all the parties involved refrain from any action that would cause even more suffering to the people, destabilizing coexistence between nations and bringing international law into disrepute.”
The pope also invited everyone to make March 2, Ash Wednesday, a Day of Fasting for Peace.
“I encourage believers in a special way to dedicate themselves intensely to prayer and fasting on that day. May the Queen of Peace preserve the world from the madness of war,” he said.
The attack has been labelled “an act of great evil” by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York. – with a report from AsiaNews