Cardinal Vincent Nichols joined his brother bishops from the London area alongside the Papal Nuncio His Excellency Archbishop Claudio Gugerotti for a short service of prayer at the Ukrainian Cathedral to pray for peace in Ukraine.
Days earlier Pope Francis had called for a day of prayer on Wednesday, 26 January. This resulted in a live-streamed 12-hour marathon of prayer throughout the world in every archeparchy and eparchy of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church.
Afterwards, Cardinal Nichols gave us a short reflection:
This evening we’ve celebrated prayer here in the Ukrainian Cathedral in central London for peace in Ukraine. This short service, just half-an-hour, was broadcast throughout the world as part of a call by the Ukrainian Church and by Pope Francis for people to pray for 24 hours for peace in Ukraine. So we’ve been part of a linked prayer – a chain of prayer – all around the world, and it’s important that we sustain that.
I ask you sincerely to pray for peace in Ukraine. The situation, as everybody knows, is very delicate – very fragile. There are daily efforts, as I gather from the conversations here, to try and ensure that what is a brittle situation does not break out into armed conflict.
We heard this evening from the Metropolitan Archbishop, the Ukrainian Archbishop from Philadelphia, who is here in London for a few days, that the prospect of war is a prospect that breaks the very foundation, reality and hopes of our human family, which is made in the image and likeness of God, which is to be one family destined for the peace of heaven.
So we pray that what is a very difficult situation does not break out into armed conflict. The invitation to prayer this evening was very moving, based on the martyrs – the Ukrainian martyrs who were beatified by Pope St. John Paul II on a visit to Ukraine. Those martyrs gave their lives for the visible unity of the Church.
Of course, the unity of the Church is a sign and a Sacrament of the unity of the human family, and that unity is broken wherever there is warfare. At the moment, that frontier between Russia and Ukraine is a place of great danger. My prayer this evening was especially for the people of the Ukraine, who feel now that great armies are massing at their borders. But my prayer was also for those who are involved in negotiations – both directly with Russia and in the negotiations that are taking place between allies in Europe and across the Western world.
We pray for each other no matter which side of these conflicts we’re on, because conflict is always a failure, and it’s a failure that is deeply destructive, as this country knows. Tragically, conflict erupts in many places even now as we speak. So the duty to pray for peace is one of the first flowerings of a love of God and an ability to see the world through the eyes of God.
As we end this reflection, I give again the blessing that I gave at the end of the service of prayer.
May God, our Merciful Father, look with kindness on our broken world in which there is so much conflict.
May God, our Merciful Father, give wisdom to those who are trying to sustain, protect and build peace through negotiation and diplomacy,
and may God bless us all in the name of the Father, the Son and and the Holy Spirit.