Another urgent call has been made by Pope Francis for the Church to pray and fast for the situation in Ukraine. At his general audience on Wednesday 23 February, he said that despite the efforts of world leaders, ‘increasingly alarming scenarios are opening up.’

To those in positions of political authority, Pope Francis pleaded to ‘examine their consciences seriously before God, who is the God of peace and not of war, who is the Father of all, not just of some, who wants us to be brothers and not enemies.’

Ash Wednesday, 2 March 2022, Pope Francis has declared to be 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.’

A declaration of war

This comes just as Vladimir Putin announced a ‘special military operation’ in Eastern Ukraine that was aimed at ‘the demilitarisation and denazification’ of the region.

Reporters on the ground in Ukraine could hear artillery fire and explosions. A minister in the office of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has said that a ‘full-scale invasion’ is beginning to unfold.

This action is being taken as a declaration of war. U.S. President has said that ‘the world will hold Russia accountable’ for its actions in Ukraine.

Prayer and fasting

As the situation becomes increasingly unstable, and as the news continues to flood the screens, let us take up Pope Francis’ call. Let us offer our prayers and fasting up on Ash Wednesday for the innocent life in Ukraine that will suffer because of this war, and for political leaders around the world that they can solve this situation quickly and peacefully.

Archbishop Peter A Comensoli will concelebrate the 1pm Ash Wednesday Mass at St Patrick’s Cathedral with Bishop Mykola Bychok CSsR, Eparch for Ukrainians in Australia, New Zealand, and Oceania.