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Pope Francis calls for prayer and fasting on Ash Wednesday for Ukraine

February 25, 2022

Image: Monument to St Volodymyr overlooking the Dnipro river in Kyiv, Ukraine.

We stand with our Ukrainian brothers and sisters and all who want peace, and do not want to have their lives destroyed by war. As the world sits on the precipice of disaster, we need to arm ourselves with prayer.

Our Ukrainian chaplain in the diocese at St Volodymyr’s Church in Wollongong, Fr Simon Ckuj, is urging us “to storm heaven with prayers!” He said, “Ukraine is a very religious country, its people have a very great sense of their faith and of the traditions of their faith.

“One of the sad things about this is that people forget that the Russian people themselves are suffering.
“For years, Ukraine was an occupied country—our Church was illegal, it was banned by the Soviet Union.
“We thought we had freedom and now it looks like our freedom will be taken away again.

“Ukraine is a peaceful and freedom loving country. Whilst not a perfect democracy, it’s very hard to shake off 70 years of communist rule in a generation. It’ll take a long time to undo the evils that communism was, and Russian occupation was,” he said.

Pope Francis is calling on us all to pray and fast for peace in Ukraine on Ash Wednesday: “I invite everyone to make March 2, Ash Wednesday, a day of fasting for peace,” he said. “I encourage believers in a special way to devote themselves intensely to prayer and fasting on that day. May the Queen of Peace protect the world from the folly of war.

“I would like to appeal to those with political responsibilities to do a serious examination of conscience before God, who is the God of peace and not of war, who is the Father of all and not only of some, who wants us to be brothers and sisters and not enemies,” he said.

He also urged world leaders to “refrain from any action that would cause even more suffering to the people, destabilising the coexistence between nations and discrediting international law.”

The head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill, is also urging prayers: “I take the suffering of people caused by the events taking place with deep and heartfelt pain. As the Patriarch of all Russia and the primate of a Church whose flock is located in Russia, Ukraine, and other countries, I deeply empathise with everyone affected by this tragedy…. The Russian and Ukrainian peoples have a common centuries-old history dating back to the Baptism of Rus’ by Prince St Vladimir the Equal-to-the-Apostles…. I call on the entire fullness of the Russian Orthodox Church to offer a special, fervent prayer for the speedy restoration of peace.”

St Mary Queen of Peace, pray for us.
St Volodymyr, pray for us.

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