ROME – Two prominent European church leaders have written a letter to the presidents of Russia and Ukraine urging a ceasefire that spans the period between Catholic and Orthodox Easter celebrations.
The letter was signed jointly by Jesuit Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich of Luxembourg, president of the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Union (COMECE) and Reverend Christian Krieger, president of the Conference of European Churches (CEC).
Hollerich and Krieger recently made a two-day trip together to the Polish border with Ukraine to visit projects assisting refugees fleeing the war that was sparked with Russia’s Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine.
In their letter, addressed to Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Hollerich and Krieger voiced their request “to declare a ceasefire in Ukraine from midnight on 17 April until midnight on 24 April.”
This plea echoes a similar request made by Pope Francis on Palm Sunday, when he urged the warring parties to “Put the weapons down! Let an Easter truce start. But not to rearm and resume combat but a truce to reach peace through real negotiations open to some sacrifices for the good of the people.”
Hollerich and Krieger noted that in just a few days, Christians throughout the world will commemorate Jesus’ suffering and death and will celebrate his resurrection.
“These Paschal celebrations lie at the heart of the Christian faith and are the high point of the liturgical year. They are central to the lives of the faithful,” Hollerich and Krieger said, noting that April 17 marks the Catholic celebration of Easter according to the Gregorian calendar, and April 24 marks the Orthodox celebration of Easter, according to the Julian calendar.
“We would ask for a general ceasefire in the conflict between your two countries so as to give Christians in Russia and Ukraine, sisters and brothers in Christ, the opportunity to celebrate Easter in peace and dignity,” they said.
This truce, they added, would also “be of benefit to all the citizens of both your countries, giving them a respite from the worrying uncertainty about the lives of their loved ones who are either fighting in the conflicts or affected by them.”
Hollerich and Krieger asked other Christian leaders to join them in calling for an Easter ceasefire.
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