ROME – During a solidarity visit to the millions of Ukrainian refugees sheltering in Poland following Russia’s invasion 44 days ago, Catholic and other Christian church leaders urged the various parties to work for peace and reconciliation.
In an April 8 Easter message recorded and sent from the Poland-Ukraine border, Rev. Christian Krieger and Jesuit Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich, presidents of the Conference of European Churches (CEC) and of the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Union (COMECE) respectively, pointed to Jesus’ own suffering and death, which will be commemorated in just a few days during Holy Week.
The events of Holy Week “take us to the heart of injustice, violence, and suffering,” Krieger and Hollerich said, arguing that the story of Jesus’ death “echoes human suffering and tragedies experienced in many parts of our world, not least by Ukrainians in their own country and wherever the roads of exile have taken them.”
Faced with the horror and tragedy many Ukrainians are experiencing as a result of the war, “the Easter Gospel turns our eyes to the work of God in this world through Jesus Christ, and in us and through us,” they said.
“In Christ, God joins our humanity, taking upon himself our limitations and our hatred, transforming our impasses, our indignation, our feelings of fatality and despair into hope through trust in him,” Krieger and Hollerich said, saying this transformation takes place precisely “within the human being and in the world that God so loves.”
Referring to the numerous projects they visited throughout their two-day trip to the Poland-Ukraine border, Krieger and Hollerich said the “incredible surge of solidarity” they have witnessed is not just present in Poland but is sweeping across Europe.
They voiced gratitude for these “signs of hope” and for “the generous welcome given to refugees from Ukraine, particularly in Poland, the unprecedented mobilization of volunteers showing a face of humanity in the midst of tragedy.”
“In the face of horror and the tragedy of wars in this world, in the face of so much suffering and violence triggered by hatred and greed, we continue to proclaim the message that turns our eyes towards the Risen Christ,” they said.
Krieger and Hollerich urged believers to stay focused on Christ and to continue voicing and showing gratitude to the many people throughout the world who provide support and solidarity to those in need, “and so share signs of humanity and witness hope.”
“Let us continue to pray and work for justice, reconciliation and peace between peoples, cultures and nations!” they said.
During their trip to Poland, Krieger and Hollerich visited various local churches belonging to different confessions and were informed of the numerous humanitarian projects and efforts being made to welcome Ukrainian refugees to the country.
They were hosted by Polish Ecumenical Council and the Catholic Bishop of Łódź, Grzegorz Ryś.
So far, it is estimated that around 4.4 million refugees have left Ukraine, with the bulk fleeing to Poland, while roughly 6.5 million people have been internally displaced since Russia invaded Feb. 24.
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