In a statement published on Thursday, February 24, the bishops of Italy expressed their total opposition to “the madness of war” and invited all the churches in the country to join in prayer and participate in the Day of Fasting called by the Pope on next March 2, Ash Wednesday.
Through a message published from the Italian Episcopal Conference, the bishops quoted Giorgio La Pira, the Italian politician known as “the holy mayor” that during his 15 years as mayor of the city of Florence he became an agent of peace throughout the world, being a protagonist in the negotiations to end the war in Vietnam, where he traveled in 1965 to meet the then prime minister Ho Chi Minh.
In their message, the bishops expressed that “the dramatic images of the military actions in Ukraine they cause pain and shake consciences. By strongly condemning the perverse decision to use weapons, we express our solidarity with the Ukrainian people and the country’s Christian communities.”
“Any conflict brings with it death and destruction, tears at the social fabric and threatens the coexistence of nations. The memory of what happened in the Old Continent in the last century should lead us to reject all words of hatred and all references to violence, prompting us instead to cultivate friendly relations and peace purposes”, they pointed out.
The Italian bishops affirmed that “this is the wish of all humanity, it is the commitment of the bishops of the Mediterranean who, gathered in Florence in recent days for the meeting ‘Mediterranean, frontier of peace’, have asked with one voice Let the guns be silenced.”
“As Giorgio La Pira said, we are called to ‘use the method of Isaiah: that is, convert war investments into peace investments: convert bombs into plowshares, war missiles into ships of peace,’” they indicated.
For this reason, “we appeal to the conscience of political leaders so that they stop the madness of war as soon as possible. At the same time, we invite all the Churches of Italy to join in a choral prayer for peace and to adhere to the Day of Fasting called by Pope Francis for next March 2, Ash Wednesday.”
war breaks out
The war that the whole world feared so much became official in the early hours of Thursday, February 24, when Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a military operation in Ukraine. “I have made the decision of a military operation,” Putin declared in an unexpected message on television.
A few minutes later, missile explosions began to be heard on the outskirts of Kiev, the capital of Ukraine, where the explosions continued throughout the morning of Thursday, February 24. And also in Kharkov, 40 kilometers from the border with Russia, the second largest city in the country.
For his part, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, Dimitro Kuleba, assured that his country “will defend and win”.
Likewise, the Ukrainian president, Volodímir Zelensky, declared martial law while Russia bombards the country and its troops advance in various parts of the territory, where more than 40 soldiers and a dozen Ukrainian civilians have lost their lives.
The president of the United States, Joe Biden, immediately denounced “the unjustified attack” that will cause “suffering and loss of human life”. “The world will hold Russia to account.”
In this line, Europe assured that Russia will pay the consequences and asked that this war end in the name of “humanity”. NATO leaders will meet by video conference to discuss actions to be taken following the invasion of Ukraine.
On the morning of Friday, February 25, the media reported the advance of Russian troops on Kiev, the capital of Ukraine. The missiles also hit other cities, such as Rivne, where Russian forces attacked the airport.