Reflection by CCND’s Russell Whiting originally given at the Fellowship of Reconciliation’s Friday Evening Prayers (29/4/22)
It is good to see that so many Christians around the world have continued to dedicate time to praying for peace in the light of the war in Ukraine. When we cast our minds back to the beginning of the conflict, Vladimir Putin held a briefing with his top military leaders live on TV where he ordered them to put Russia’s nuclear weapons on a “high level of readiness”. This was initially met with shock in UK and elsewhere, but soon experts were saying that this is not a recognised step in Russian military doctrine and was probably just sabre-rattling by the Kremlin.
As the war has progressed the threat of nuclear weapons being used has been on the agenda and in peoples minds in a way it hasn’t been for the past decades. The situation is incredibly dangerous, it will only take one rocket from Russia to start into Poland or another NATO Member State and the situation could escalate very quickly.
Just a few days ago a senior editor of RT – Russian state media – a very close ally of Vladimir Putin, Margarita Simonyan spoke at a conference. Her remarks are worth quoting at length:
“Either we lose in Ukraine, or the Third World War starts. I think World War Three is more realistic, knowing us, knowing our leader. The most incredible outcome, that all this will end with a nuclear strike, seems more probable to me than the other course of events. This is to my horror on one hand, but on the other hand, it is what it is. We’re all going to die someday.”
The first time I read those words I almost laughed at the simplicity of the sentiment, but I think it demonstrates that we can take nothing for granted when it comes to the mindset of the Russian leaders. There have also been times in the past two months when the language of British and other western politicians cause us to question their commitment to finding peace in the situation.
We seem to have lost our shared humanity. Those fighting on the Russian side are human beings – as Christians we believe they are created in the image of God. Most of them don’t want to be there, they don’t want to be fighting and they have families at home worrying about them. The way our media somehow romanticises war from one perspective and demonises the other side is not helpful.
We all know that wars either end with a negotiated settlement, or they continue to rage. Between today and the end of this conflict potentially millions more will die, suffer injuries and experience unimaginable loss, anguish and pain. What we need to do is skip the bit where all that happens and we can end this quickly and minimise the future suffering of the people of Ukraine and Russia.
During this time of conflict and unceratinty about the use of nuclear weapons I have found it incredibly helpful to find time for silence and for pray. To re-centre ourselves on God, to declare Jesus Christ as the Prince of Peace, with the government on His shoulders.
Throughout history there are stories of struggles and conflicts which seemed hopeless, until situations change. We continue to pray for all those leaders involved in this conflict, including Vladimir Putin and those around him. We pray that those who suffer and mourn will be comforted and most of all we pray that the people of Ukraine will be able to live in peace, and the threat of nuclear weapons use will be consigned to history once and for all.
Being a Conscientious Objector in Ukraine/Russia (20/4/22)
Independent Catholic News shares this report…
The following post, on Friends House Moscow Facebook page, republished with permission, explores the issue of the right to be a conscientious objector… Read More
Bishop speaks out on Nuclear weapons (5/3/22)
Independent Catholic News reports the address given recently at a public meeting by Bishop Christopher Cocksworth, Anglican Bishop of Coventry.
The Rt Revd Dr Christopher Cocksworth, Anglican Bishop of Coventry gave the following address in a public meeting of the Lord Mayor of Coventry’s Comm… Read More
Ukraine – Resources for Understanding, Prayer and Action
Prayer Service of 59th Anniversary of Pacem in Terris
This recording contains stories about what religious congregations are doing in Ukraine and stories of nonviolent resistance…
Listen to Bonhoeffer’s Prophetic Message…
Project Bonhoeffer is a UK-based organisation set up to ‘inform and remind today’s Christians of the challenges of discipleship that Dietrich Bonhoeffer addressed in his radical theology and Christian witness’. Project Bonhoeffer’s challenge to faith Communities can be read in full on Independent Catholic News: “We call on Orthodox and other Faith Communities to bear witness to the message of Bonhoeffer for our times – that wars of aggression and the Christian message are incompatible”.
Plea for Peace from Mary Hale 92/4/22)
Confused and distressed amid the clamour and din of claim and counter claim by the belligerents in the current tragic situation in Ukraine, I sought solace in silence.
There I came to understand that victory and defeat are two sides of the same coin: that victor and vanquished are inextricably bound together by bonds of hubris and humiliation by guilt and shame but also by grief for the loss of family, friends and homes.
Those who choose the path of kindness and compassion as taught by all the world’s great religionsfind true freedom though it may cost them their lives.
Copyright ©️2022 Mary Hale
Fellowship of Reconciliation Resource (1/4/22)
Members may find this resource from Fellowship of Reconciliation of interest.
Pacifism in the Face of Aggression (27/3/22)
Pax Christi Member, Maggie Beirne, who coordinates the Westminster J&P Network, wrote a challenging article published in Independent Catholic News looking at Christian responses to war in Ukraine.
Pope calls for Abolition of War before it Erases Humanity (27/3/22)
Pope Francis strong condemnation of war in his Angelus address on Sunday is reported by Independent Catholic News.
There is a need to repudiate was, a place of death where fathers and mothers bury their children, where men kill their brothers without ever having seen them, where the powerful decide and the poor die.Pope Francis
Global Campaign on Military Spending – UK Statement on Military Spending (23/3/22)
In a challenging statement published on the eve of the UK budget announcement, GCOMS UK asks: Is the invasion of Ukraine really the fault of NATO under-spending? read it here.
Pax Christi Member Bruce Kent sends a message to Putin and makes suggestions for actions all can take (6/3/22)
In his speech at a rally in Trafalgar Square on 6 March, Bruce Kent sent a message to Putin
—-. ‘for the sake of the millions of us who will perish if the heightened risk of nuclear war turns into a nuclear conflict, we urge you to halt the attacks, withdraw the troops and nuclear threats.’
He then went on to make suggestions for action
- Get our own Government to sign up to and support the new UN Treaty on Nuclear Weapons Abolition and to send a delegation to the June meeting in Austria
- Increase general knowledge of UN structure and work, in churches, schools, libraries etc etc
- Make contact with those brave people who support peace moves in Russia
- Do all you can to help all refugees. (Including those who are not Ukrainians, but are fleeing across the Channel.)
An A4 Sheet with the words of the preamble to the UN charter is available for 50p from Movement Against War. https://abolishwar.net/shop/preamble-to-the-united-nations-charter/
Poem by Rob Esdaile: Breakfast In The Safety Of A War-Zone
The radio crackles into life beneath my clumsy early morning thumb,
bringing the latest from a basement under siege.
As the kettle boils a plume of smoke rises in the distance,
followed seconds later by the dull thud of the landing shell.
The loose dry leaves cascade like shrapnel into the pre-warmed pot.
The clatter of machine-guns punctuates my stirring of the brew.
I reach the fridge door just in time
as a jet swoops fast and furious,
retrieving the milk bottle while a kindly grandma explains
the best recipe for a successful cocktail – petrol, rags and cooking oil.
On the stove the surface of the porridge pan erupts
as exploding cluster bombs pock-mark their city streets.
Slavic voices fully convey in words I do not ken the anguish of the hour
as I spoon sweet honey into my steaming bowl of oats.
I check my e-mails while a doctor checks a wounded fighter’s pulse.
A child screams as I pour myself a glass of juice.
Zelensky pops up with another impromptu speech,
while more exhausted exiles clog his nation’s roads.
I go to wash, to dress and clean my teeth. I say my prayers.
Another day dawns on the frontline of our hearts.
Copyright ©️2022 Rob Esdaile
Copies of Rob’s latest collection of 27 poems: ‘A Word In Edgeways’ which includes the poem shown above are available for £7 inc. p&p (or £10 together with the previous volume, ‘An Invaded Life’) from Our Lady of Lourdes parish office. e: firstname.lastname@example.org; t: 020 8398 2191. Proceeds to Cafod/DEC Ukraine Appeal.
Poem by Anne O’Connor (11/3/22)
In the midst of horror
the kindness of others shines a light in the darkness
a simple, practical gesture
unknown mothers reaching out to women they will never meet
As the war escalates with new atrocities
a Russian air strike destroys a children’s hospital ward
A Russian soldier,
no more than a boy,
weeps as his captors show compassion.
A Ukrainian woman embraces him,
not his mother
the mother of an enemy.
With a mother’s love
she calls the frightened boy’s mother to tell her he’s ok one mother to another.
She calls her by name: ‘Natasha’.
Copyright ©️2022 Anne O’Connor
A JustPeace Approach in Ukraine from Pax Christi International’s Catholic Nonviolence Project (7/3/22)
In mid-February, before Russia invaded Ukraine, Eli McCarthy, Ph.D. from Georgetown University and John Reuwer developed the following proposal in response to President Putin’s threats to Ukraine. Their proposal is based on a “JustPeace” ethical framework being explored by the Catholic Nonviolence Initiative and many others as an approach to identifying nonviolent solutions in violent or potentially violent situations.
On March 7, following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Eli developed their thoughts further (see below) and Pax Christi International’s Nonviolence Advocacy Working Group is facilitating a continued discernment process that involves many Pax Christi member organizations from around the world sharing ideas for nonviolent approaches to a just peace in Ukraine.
Read the article here
Pope Francis’ Plea for Peace in Ukraine (6/3/22)
“Dear brothers and sisters, Rivers of blood and tears are flowing in Ukraine. It is not merely a military operation, but a war, which sows death, destruction and misery. The number of victims is increasing, as are the people fleeing, especially mothers and children. The need for humanitarian assistance in that troubled country is growing dramatically by the hour. I make a heartfelt appeal for humanitarian corridors to be genuinely secured, and for aid to be guaranteed and access facilitated to the besieged areas, in order to offer vital relief to our brothers and sisters oppressed by bombs and fear. I thank all those who are taking in refugees. Above all, I implore that the armed attacks cease and that negotiation – and common sense – prevail. And that international law be respected once again!Let us pray together for Ukraine: we have its flags in front of us. Let us pray together, as brothers and sisters, to Our Lady, Queen of Ukraine. Hail Mary…The Holy See is ready to do everything, to put itself at the service of this peace. In these days, two Cardinals went to Ukraine, to serve the people, to help. Cardinal Krajewski, the Almoner, to bring aid to the needy, and Cardinal Czerny, interim Prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development. The presence of the two Cardinals there is the presence not only of the Pope, but of all the Christian people who want to get closer and say: “War is madness! Stop, please! Look at this cruelty!” “
Archbishop’s Call for Solidarity and for Peace
Independent Catholic News (28/2/22) reports the Archbishop of Southwark’s call for solidarity with the people of Ukraine and for peace at the Ukranian Greek Catholic Cathedral of the Holy Family yesterday.
Cardinal Vincent Nichols calls for end to Russian attacks in Ukraine
Cardinal Vincent Nichols, President of the Bishops’ Conference, has called for an immediate cessation of the Russian attacks in Ukraine and for the protection of innocent civilians.
“I appeal for all to pray for the people of Ukraine, who are suffering the brunt of this conflict. I pray for their strength and perseverance under this onslaught.
“The international community must unite in seeking an end to this conflict through peaceful means, including dialogue and negotiation, as the only way forward.
“It is their responsibility to ensure that international law and territorial sovereignty are respected. We must also keep in mind the plight of those who will become refugees as a result of this attack and the humanitarian crisis that will inevitably follow.
“In this precarious moment for the people of Ukraine and further across Europe, I pray for the victims of this conflict and their families.” From Catholic Church England and Wales (24/2/22)
Pope Francis calls for a Day of Fasting for Peace, Ash Wednesday, 2 March
Pope Francis has invited everyone to make 2 March, Ash Wednesday, 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,” [Pope Francis] said. Independent Catholic News (24/2/22)
A statement from Pax Christ International on Ukraine. (24/2/22)
A statement on Ukraine from the Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns. (23/2/22)
The Northern Friends Peace Board has collated a page of resources which might be helpful in understanding the crisis. (14/2/22)
Pax Christi International is promoting a webinar on possible diplomatic ways to resolve the Ukrainian crisis organised by Campaign for Peace Disarmament and Common Security on Wednesday 2 March, 15.00 GMT Diplomatic Paths to Resolution of the Ukraine/European Security Crisis Russian, European & U.S. Perspectives. Speakers include: Alexey Gromyko: Russian Academy of Sciences (Russia) Tarja Cronberg: Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (Finland) Daryl Kimball: Arms Control Association (United States). Register here .
On the website of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, the Ukranian Catholic Bishop of the Holy Family of London asks for prayers and support. (22/2/22)
Pax Christi Members joined in an online service of prayer Prayers for Peace in Ukraine with our friends from the Anglican Pacifist Fellowship. The presentation made in the service is available here .
Dr Inderjit Bhogal, Honorary President of the Fellowship of Reconciliation, has written a prayer for use during this time of heightening tensions in the Ukraine.
We hold before you all who live close to war and conflict; and all who live close to the threat of war and violence.
We remember especially at this time, people in Ukraine and Russia. We pray for nonviolent and peaceful resolutions of conflict.
Give to us all hearts of hospitality and sanctuary, forgive us all our hostility and hatred.
Bring all people to the humanity you give us, and to the reconciliation and healing for which you give your life.
Strengthen us all to work with you to build justice and peace, reconciliation and healing, in our hearts and homes, in our streets, in all communities, neighbourhoods and nations.
Bless all who live lives for the peace and wellbeing of others, and make their service fruitful.
In the name of Christ.
WCC appeals for Peace
“God’s people – and members of the ecumenical fellowship – find themselves on both sides of the current confrontation,” added Sauca. “But our God is a God of peace, not of war and bloodshed,” he said. “Though the things that make for peace may be hidden from the eyes of those driving the march to war, we pray that they may yet be opened, and that peace may yet prevail.” A report is available on ICN.
Pax Christi International has written to Pope Francis about the escalation of tensions in Ukraine and the need for coordinated international action to ensure peace and the avoidance of war. We expressed gratitude to the Holy Father for his leadership in calling for a nonviolent resolution and initiating a world day of prayer for Ukraine, in which our movement has faithfully participated.https://paxchristi.net/2022/01/27/appeal-to-pope-francis-for-peace-in-ukraine/
Cardinal joins peace prayers for Ukraine (29/1/22)
Independent Catholic News reports today on the short service of prayer attended by Cardinal Vincent Nichols, and the Papal Nuncio at London’s Ukranian Cathedral, after which the Cardinal gave the following blessing:
May God, our Merciful Father, look with kindness on our broken world in which there is so much conflict. May God, our Merciful Father, give wisdom to those who are trying to sustain, protect and build peace through negotiation and diplomacy, and may God bless us all in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
The Catholic Bishops Conference of England and Wales have background information on the current situation in Ukraine and prayer resources on their website
Pope Francis calls for Day of Prayer for Peace on (26/1/22)
Pope Francis has written: ‘I am following with concern the increase of tensions that threaten to inflict a new blow to peace in Ukraine and call into question the security of the European Continent. Therefore, I propose that next Wednesday, 26 January be a day of prayer for peace’.
Prayer & Reflection on Ukraine
As an individual or in a J&P group/prayer group/scripture group…
- Share (without discussion) some of words you have read or images you have seen.
- Ask: Has anyone in the group got personal knowledge of Ukraine or Russia?
- Deepen this sharing by asking the question, ‘Who is doing what to whom and why?’
- Hear words from scripture: Stilling the Storm: Matthew 8: 23-27, Mark 4:35 – 41, Luke 8: 22 – 25Resurrection appearance to the disciples: John 20: 19Prayer for peace: Psalm 29: 11The peace of God’s Reign: Isaiah 32: 16 – 18Act justly…: Micah 6: 8 You will be able to find many more examples
- Pray in silence or in words…
- (There are many statements and articles and prayer resources available through the Pax Christi website https://paxchristi.org.uk/news-reports-2022/ )
- Hold a time of prayer for those affected by the crisis – remembering all those affected.
- Attend the Pax Christi/Christian CND Ash Wednesday online service 2 March, 7.00 pm. Register here.
- Keep an eye on Pax Christi’s website and social media for more information and actions – and do share your ideas with us at email@example.com
- Try not to feel overcome by the news: take actions that bring life and hope to yourself and those around you.
- Say the Pax Christi Daily Prayer in solidarity with others working for peace.
It is important that members of the group respect each others views, opinions and perspectives – and practise peace!
Pax Christi Daily Prayer
Members and supporters might like to use this on a daily basis
Thank you loving God:
For the gift of life;
For this wonderful world which we all share;
For the joy of love and friendship;
For the challenge of helping to build your kingdom.
My determination to work for a world of peace and justice;
My conviction that, whatever our nationality or race,
we are all global citizens, one in Christ;
My courage to challenge the powerful with the values of the gospel;
My commitment to find nonviolent ways of resolving conflict;
– personal, local, national and international;
My efforts to forgive injuries and to love those I find it hard to love.
To share the gifts you have given me;
To speak out for the victims of injustice who have no voice;
To reject the violence which runs through much of our world today.
Holy Spirit of God
Renew my hope for a world free from the cruelty and evil of war so that we may all come to share
in God’s peace and justice. Amen
Gweddi ddyddiol Pax Christi
Diolch, Dduw cariad:
am rodd bywyd;
am y byd rhyfeddol hwn a rannwn;
am lawenydd cariad a chyfeillgarwch;
am yr her i helpu adeiladu dy deyrnas.
fy mhenderfyniad i weithio dros fyd o heddwch a chyfiawnder;
fy argyhoeddiad ein bod, waeth beth ein cenedl neu’n hil, i gyd yn ddinasyddion byd ac yn un yng Nghrist;
fy newrder i herio’r grymus ag egwyddorion yr efengyl;
fy ymrwymiad i ganfod ffyrdd di-drais o ddatrys gwrthdaro – personol, lleol, cenedlaethol a rhyngwladol;
fy ymdrechion i faddau cam ac i garu’r rhai rwy’n eu cael yn anodd eu caru.
I rannu’r rhoddion a roddaist i mi;
I godi llais dros rai sy’n dioddef anghyfiawnder ac nad oes ganddynt lais;
I wrthod y trais sy’n rhan mor annatod o’n byd heddiw.
Ysbryd Sanctaidd Duw:
Adnewydda fy ngobaith am fyd rhydd o greulondeb a drygioni rhyfel er mwyn i ni gyd ddod i rannu yn nhangnefedd a chyfiawnder Duw.