Pope sets day of prayer for peace in Ukraine

Expressing concern for Ukraine and how a possible Russian-Ukrainian conflict could spread, Pope Francis proclaimed January 26 a day of prayer for peace in Ukraine.

“I follow with concern the rise of tensions which threaten to deal a new blow to peace in Ukraine and to jeopardize the security of the European continent, with even wider repercussions,” the pope said on January 23 after reciting the Angelus prayer.

“I sincerely appeal to all people of good will to pray to Almighty God that all political actions and initiatives serve human brotherhood rather than partisan interests,” the pope said.

“Those who pursue their own goals at the expense of others despise their calling as human beings, because we were all created brothers and sisters,” he said. “For this reason and with concern given the current tensions, I propose that next Wednesday, January 26, be a day of prayer for peace.”

Russia annexed Crimea in early 2014, and shortly thereafter Russian-backed separatists began fighting Ukrainian government forces in the eastern Ukrainian regions of Donetsk and Luhansk. Some 1.5 million people fled the region to other parts of Ukraine and thousands of civilians and soldiers died or were injured.

While in the spring of 2021 Russia was accused by many Western countries of trying to provoke more active fighting by staging military exercises near the border, a massive buildup of Russian troops just across the border created the alarm in early December.

The buildup continued, and in late January 22 the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office issued a statement saying it had evidence that Russia was drawing up plans to install a pro-Russian government in Ukraine.

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