Ukraine crisis: Pope asks world leaders to make “serious examination of conscience”

"serious examination of conscience"

Expressing great sadness at the worsening situation in Ukraine, Pope Francis asked world leaders on Wednesday to make a “serious examination of conscience before God”.

During his general audience on February 23, the pope called for people to fast for peace on March 2, Ash Wednesday. He prayed that “the Queen of Peace will preserve the world from the madness of war.

“I have great pain in my heart over the worsening situation in Ukraine” Pope Francis said in the Vatican’s Paul VI Hall.

“Despite the diplomatic efforts over the past few weeks, increasingly alarming scenarios are opening up. Like me, many people throughout the world are feeling anguish and concern. Once again, the peace of all is threatened by partisan interests.

“I would like all those who have the political responsibility to make a serious examination of conscience before God. He is the God of peace and not of war. He wants us to be brothers and not enemies.

“I pray that all parties involved will refrain from any action that will cause even more suffering for people, destabilising coexistence among nations and undermining international law”.

The pope’s comments came after Russian President Vladimir Putin announced in a televised address on February 21 that he would recognise the breakaway Ukrainian regions of Lugansk and Donetsk as independent entities.

These regions, which are run by Russian-backed separatists, include land currently held by the Ukrainian armed forces.

Western countries responded to the announcement by unveiling sanctions targeting Russian banks and politicians.

Ukraine’s charitable Caritas organisation has said it is preparing for a possible humanitarian crisis should there be an invasion.

Speaking to Crux, Vladyslav Shelokov, Communication and Resource Mobilisation Director for Caritas Ukraine, said the deterioration of the situation into war “would exponentially deepen the already existing humanitarian situation.

“It would be a big tragedy not just for people who fled their houses escaping from blasts and shells, but also a huge tragedy for all our country”, he said.

“Potentially millions of people” would find themselves in need, Shelokov added.

Should a full war erupt, Caritas would need to step up efforts it has already been making in conflict areas since the 2014 unrest. They have been organising shelter for the displaced and providing water, food, hygiene kits, medical care and support.

Caritas, Shelokov said, has been providing these services for the past eight years “and we are also preparing to respond in the same manner this time, in case of escalation, but we hope and pray that our experience in rapid response in deterioration of war will not be applied into action”.



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