Ukrainian religious leaders call for global day of prayer


Eastern Europe


People attend a mass in support for Ukraine. Photo EPA, Brendon Thorne

Ukrainian religious leaders called for a worldwide day of prayer on February 24th, one year after the Russian invasion. "The genocidal ideology of the Russian Orthodox Church is a problem for Christianity as a whole."

Twenty religious leaders from Ukraine visited Vatican City last week. On Thursday, they held a press conference in which they called for a global day of prayer, the Dutch Christian daily Nederlands Dagblad reports. "February 24th marks exactly one year since the start of the war. We want to organise a special day of prayer in all churches and all prayer houses of other denominations in Ukraine. We have asked the Pope to support our initiative and make it known around the world so that all over the world, people will pray for peace in Ukraine on that day. For we believe that God can work miracles thanks to fasting and prayer as the Bible says", says Valery Antonyuk, president of the Baptist Union in Ukraine.


Archbishop Svyatoslav Shevchuk of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church led the delegation. He sharply criticised the Russian Orthodox Church at a press conference on Thursday, even drawing comparisons with ISIS.

'This is about the credibility of the Christian message as a whole: if one Christian church develops a genocidal ideology, the credibility of the whole of Christianity is at risk, just as ISIS was a problem for the whole of Islam. Both cases are about an instrumentalisation of religion,' he said.


Furthermore, the religious leaders asked Pope Francis to visit Kyiv. Shevchuk said they have yet to receive a clear response on the possibility. "We know that the Holy Father is following the developments in Ukraine and is looking for the right moment to come," he told journalists at the Vatican on January 26th. This reports the National Catholic Reporter. "We wanted to show him that not only Catholics are waiting for him. All Ukrainians are waiting for him."



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