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COMECE president urges Moscow Patriarch to intercede with Russia to stop war


Cardinal Hollerich, Patriarch Kirill

Cardinal Hollerich, Patriarch Kirill

Source: COMECE

The President of the EU Bishops, Cardinal Hollerich, sent a letter to Moscow Patriarch Kirill on Tuesday, 8 March 2022, asking him to issue an urgent appeal to Russian authorities to immediately stop hostilities against the Ukrainian people.

In the letter, addressed to His Holiness Kirill, Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, the President of the Commission of the Bishops' Conferences of the European Union (COMECE), His Eminence Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich SJ, appealed to the Patriarch to intercede with Russian authorities to "show goodwill for seeking a diplomatic solution to the conflict, based on dialogue, common sense and respect for international law."

"Broken-hearted" by the tragic testimonies coming from the besieged areas in Ukraine, the President of the EU Bishops also called on the Patriarch to advocate for "safe humanitarian corridors and unrestricted access to humanitarian assistance."

Addressing the Patriarch as someone that could bring a sign of hope for a peaceful solution to this conflict, Cardinal Hollerich recalled the 2016 joint statement issued by Patriarch Kirill and Pope Francis deploring the then unfolding hostilities in Ukraine. "Please do not let those powerful words go in vain" - the President of COMECE added.

In January 2022, while tensions at the EU Eastern border were mounting, Cardinal Hollerich called for putting "particular interests aside and promoting steps leading to de-escalation and confidence-building".

Following the Russian military invasion of Ukraine in late February 2022, COMECE President condemned the hostilities "as a serious threat to peace on the whole European continent and beyond" and appealed on European societies and governments to welcome refugees seeking international protection.

The full letter text follows below:

Your Holiness,

Commission of the Bishops' Conferences of the European Union

It is with deep sorrow in my heart that I am addressing you today as President of the Commission of the Catholic Bishops' Conferences of the European Union (COMECE) and as a brother faithful in Our Lord Jesus Christ.

Broken-hearted, we listen to the voices of our brothers and sisters who are suffering from the foolishness of war in Ukraine, whose horrific consequences are in front of our eyes. Thousands - soldiers and civilians alike - have already lost their lives and more than a million people have been displaced or fled their homeland, most of them vulnerable women and children. As violent attacks are hitting Ukraine and its people every day with greater force, the need for humanitarian assistance is growing dramatically by the hour, while diplomatic efforts have remained fruitless so far. Moreover, as words and actions keep escalating, the possibility of a wider European or even global conflict with catastrophic consequences cannot be excluded.

In these darks moments for humanity, accompanied by intense feelings of hopelessness and fear, many look to you, Your Holiness, as someone who could bring a sign of hope for a peaceful solution to this conflict. In 2016, you jointly deplored with His Holiness Pope Francis "the hostility in Ukraine that has already caused many victims, inflicted innumerable wounds on peaceful inhabitants and thrown society into a deep economic and humanitarian crisis", urging for action aimed at constructing peace and social solidarity .

Please do not let those powerful words go in vain. Sharing Pope Francis' feelings of anguish and concern repeatedly expressed over the "rivers of blood and tears flowing in Ukraine", I dare to implore your Holiness in the spirit of fraternity: please, address an urgent appeal to Russian authorities to immediately stop the hostilities against the Ukrainian people and to show goodwill for seeking a diplomatic solution to the conflict, based on dialogue, common sense and respect for international law, while allowing safe humanitarian corridors and unrestricted access to humanitarian assistance.

As Your Holiness stressed during your recent meeting with the Apostolic Nuncio to the Russian Federation, "the Church can be a peacemaking force". In this time of Lent, let Mary, mother of health and hope, pray for us!

As Christians, proclaiming the same Gospel and praying to the same God, who is the God of peace and not of war, pray and do our utmost to help end this senseless war so that reconciliation and peace may dwell again on the European continent.

May our blessing be with you,

Respectfully yours in Our Lord Jesus Christ,

+ Jean-Claude Card. Hollerich SJ

Jean-Claude Cardinal Hollerich SJ

Archbishop of Luxembourg, President of COMECE


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