Ukraine and the Holy See are ready for peace initiatives

Bishop Paul Richard Gallagher, Secretary for Relations with States and International Organizations, speaking to journalists on the sidelines of “The Prophecy of Peace” conference organized by Communion and Liberation, recalled that the parties were not ready to end the conflict. Diplomatic meetings continue at the Vatican, but for now the pope will not be visiting Kyiv. Support for Ukraine’s defense is fair, but “must be proportionate”.

Michele Raviart – Vatican City

“The Holy See must be ready, must be available” to make his good services available to all, as the Pope requested, however “Right now, the ambitions of the belligerents are incompatible with major peace initiatives”. “We hope we will reach this point in the near future”said Bishop Paul Richard Gallagher, Secretary for Relations with States and International Organizations, during an interview with journalists on the sidelines of the “War in Ukraine and “prophecy for peace” conference promoted by Communion and Liberation and held Friday afternoon at the Urbaniana Pontifical University, The parties are still saying that “that there may be a role for the Holy See, but to bring about a just peace you need negotiations” and “it seems that the parties were either not ready or they were speaking in such a language that one could accept the other’s proposal. We are still in a situation of conflict, war, and this is the language used today..

Create a new culture of peace

The Archbishop reaffirmed that the Holy See is active “talking, discussing, meeting people in the Vatican, receiving ambassadorial visits”, but not much to look forward to at this point “because the climate of conflict is not very open”. The Pope, Bishop Gallagher repeated, “constantly talking about war” and what to do is “to create a new culture of peace and create structures that can promote it in Europe”.

The situation is serious for Ukraine, Europe and the world

Europe, he said, was probably too used to not getting involved in these events: “We always thought war was impossible in Europe, now we have learned that we are poor humans like everyone else.” “There is no part of the world where this war is not having an impact” and therefore the call to agencies and groups of people is to think outside the box to find solutions. “We can’t exclude anything”, because “the situation is very serious, not only for Ukraine in particular and for all of Europe, but also for the world”. “We must”moreover, “keep praying and begging, because maybe only divine help will get us out of this situation”.

Pope Francis will not be visiting Kyiv at this stage

At this point, the Secretary for State Relations confirmed, Francis would not travel to Kyiv: “The Pope always remembers this invitation but I think he wanted to make this visit at the most opportune time and now seems not the time”as also evidenced by what happened during Orthodox Christmas, with “the impossibility of convincing people of the value of a truce”. Regarding relations with Russia, Archbishop Gallagher reiterated that he only has contact with the Holy See Embassy and not with any other figures or groups opposed to war. “The Russian people, I believe, support the policies of their government. That he is well informed is another matter…”, he commented. “There are those who, for various reasons, do not accept this policy, young people who left for Georgia after mobilization, some are detained because of their opinion”but “It doesn’t seem like a mass movement in Russia at the moment”.

The right to a proportional defense

In recent days, new weapons have arrived in Ukraine from allies. “We have always maintained that Ukraine has the right to a fair defense”but this one “must be a proportional defense”. “This weaponry has a very large cost”, but “What we don’t want and what I don’t think anyone wants is for this to be used as an excuse for conflict escalation. We want this to be a reason to promote peace and help all parties realize the gravity of this situation.”because, as the Archbishop said earlier in his speech at the conference, “we must not fall into habituation and indifference to the many civilian deaths”.

Arms race

In his speech, Archbishop Gallagher expressed his concern at the accelerated rearmament we are witnessing. Indeed, in 2021, for the first time, global military spending will exceed two trillion dollars, double that of 2000 and far more than during the Cold War. Indeed, 2.2% of the world’s wealth is devoted to military spending, even as the world economy contracted by 3.1%. “It’s a resource”, said Mr Gallagher, “inevitably withdrawn from investments aimed at promoting jobs, medical care, the fight against hunger and development” and who can be assigned to fight “21st century security threats, such as poverty, environmental problems, terrorism, asymmetric conflicts” or phenomena such as pandemics and global warming.

Marco Tarquinio: The Church is the only official voice for peace

“Ten percent of what goes into weapons will be enough to end world hunger,” underscored the editor of the Italian daily Avvenire, Marco Tarquinio, in an intervention, recalling how, during the pandemic, the world spent the same amount of money on weapons as on health care and much more than on ‘education’. In this terrible winter of conflict, Marco Tarquinio remembers that the Church is the only voice “strong, decisive and convincing” to speak of peace, in a world where all the wars since 1945 have ended in even greater tension and where, apart from Ukraine, there are 160 other open conflicts, such as Syria and Yemen, to just cite it.

Davide Prosperi: It seems impossible to talk about peace, but we must not lose hope

In this sense, it seems all the more necessary to accompany the Pope “in prophecy for peace”, as Francis himself said on October 15 when he received Communion and Liberation in audience and said he was frightened by “an increasingly violent and warlike world”. It seems today it is impossible to talk about peace.” underlines Davide Prosperi, president of the fraternity of Communion and Liberation, “but we must work to remember what has happened, to support the memory of what happened historically especially in Europe, to be ready to break any pattern, any prejudice, even in relation to those who might be considered ‘righteous’ enemies”. It is the tireless search for peace, he continued, that has led Communion and Liberation to initiatives such as the project to welcome refugees into the family, or educational and psychosocial assistance for abandoned children in Ukraine, or again international projects. “open hospital” in Syria. “Our mission as Christians”added Prosperous, “is being a witness in daily work that only builds hope”, because, as Father Luigi Giussani, founder of the Communion and Liberation movement, taught, “Hope is the certainty of the future in the strength of the present reality which is Christ.”

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