This coming Wednesday, 26 January 2022, as well as being Australia Day, is now a day devoted to prayer for peace in the Ukraine. The announcement came at the end of Pope Francis’ midday Angelus last Sunday, where he expressed concerns over the 'rising tensions' between Russia and the rest of the world.

The pontiff explained:

I am following with concern the rising tensions that threaten to inflict a new blow to peace in Ukraine, and put in question the security in Europe with even wider repercussions.’

Pope Francis also expressed hopes that political discussions would focus on ‘human brotherhood instead of partisan interests,’ and said that ‘those who pursue their own goals to the detriment of others despise their own human vocation because we have all been created as brothers.’

Currently an estimated 100,000 Russian troops have amassed at the border, forcing an outnumbered Ukrainian military to scramble to protect themselves against a possible invasion.

International tensions have been heightened with the Foreign Secretary of the United Kingdom alleging a Russian plot to install a pro-Russian leader in the nation’s capital, Kyiv. American President Joe Biden has made it plain that any movement across the Ukrainian border would constitute an invasion, and that Russia would ‘pay a heavy price.’

This is another heated instalment of the protracted saga that began in February 2014 with the Russo-Ukrainian War. Ukraine is the second largest country by area in Europe, with an estimated population of 44 million people.

Last week, the Council of European Bishops’ Conferences (CCEE) expressed its support for Ukraine and appealed to Christians to pray for peace:

‘We, also, as shepherds of the European Continent, want to appeal to the Leaders of the Nations so that they do not forget the tragic World Wars of the last century and so that international law as well as the independence and territorial sovereignty of each country will be defended. Together with the Holy Father, we want to call on Governments to find “acceptable and lasting solutions” in Ukraine based on dialogue and negotiation and without resorting to arms.

‘At this extremely delicate time, we ask Christians to pray for the gift of peace in Ukraine so that those responsible may be filled with, and radiate, a peace that is "contagious" and that the crisis will be overcome exclusively through dialogue.‘

In 2019, speaking on the power of prayer, Pope Francis reminded us that ‘prayer always changes reality.’

It either changes things or changes our hearts, but it always changes.’

This Wednesday 26 January, please join the global Church in setting aside time to pray for the de-escalation of the Ukrainian situation.