European Bishops issue a strong appeal to Russia to immediately suspend hostilities against Ukraine, and urge all parties to work towards a solution to the conflict.
By Linda Bordoni
A powerful statement, which comes in the wake of “and in full communion” with Pope Francis’ reiterated pleas and prayers for peace in Europe, gives voice to the appeal and concerns of EU Bishops, and expresses their closeness to the suffering people of Ukraine.
Sadness and concern
Saying they feel deep sadness for “the horrific human suffering inflicted on the people of Ukraine by the brutal military aggression initiated by the Russian authorities”, the Bishops also voice their concern that recent actions may “risk a further expansion of the war with disastrous consequences for humanity.”
The statement, issued at the end of the 2022 Autumn Plenary Assembly of the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Union (COMECE), appeals directly to Russia to suspend hostilities against Ukraine.
The bishops also urge “all parties to open themselves up to negotiation of ‘serious proposals’ for a just peace, to work towards a solution to the conflict, which respects international law and the territorial integrity of Ukraine.”
And they convey the closeness of their Dioceses to “the millions of refugees and to all those who suffer because of this madness of war.”
Following an in-depth discussion on the war in Ukraine and its increasingly dramatic socio-economic implications affecting citizens in Europe and beyond, the EU Bishops stress “the deep value of the European Union and its founding vision.”
They also strongly encourage political leaders “to maintain their unity and to remain committed to the European project.”
During the Autumn Plenary Assembly that was held from 12 to 14 October, the Bishops welcomed three guests with whom they shared opinions and ideas.
They were Klaus Welle, Secretary-General of the European Parliament, Philip McDonagh, Director of the Centre for Religion, Human Values and International Relations at Dublin City University, and Pascal Lamy, former Director General of the World Trade Organisation and Coordinator of the Jacques Delors think tanks networks.
Pastor Christian Krieger, President of the Conference of European Churches, also participated.
Mass for Europe
On the first day of the Assembly, Holy Mass, presided over by Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich, President of COMECE, was celebrated at the Church of Notre-Dame des Victoires au Sablon to pray for Europe.
The Mass was concelebrated by the Bishops’ Delegates of the 27 EU Member States.
The next Assembly
The Assembly of COMECE is composed of the Bishop Delegates by the EU Episcopates. The next Plenary Assembly will take place in Rome and will feature the election of a new COMECE Presidency.