Peace Activists Ask Pope Francis to Help Prevent War in Ukraine

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Currents News Staff

A banner with the words “Human right to peace” stood out in St. Peter’s Square at Pope Francis’ Angelus on Jan. 24. A few days later, the co-founder and chairman of that same group attended the pontiff’s General Audience for the second time in two weeks.

“We have high tensions between Russia, Ukraine and the NATO states in Europe,” said Chairperson of the Society Culture of Peace, Henning Zierock. “And so we thought it’s important to come here and to offer him the possibility that he could play a role, Pope Francis, to bring the people together, to discuss and not to go to war.”

This is a copy of the letter Zierock and other representatives of Society Culture of Peace gave to Pope Francis, asking him to take action to prevent war in Ukraine.

And this is a copy of the poster they gave him, with the same urgent appeal. It shows a Pablo Picasso painting representing “peace for all nations.”

When Pope Francis announced that Jan. 26 would be a day of prayer for peace in Ukraine, Zierock decided to change his flight and attend the pontiff’s General Audience again, precisely on that day of prayer for peace.

“I decided I would stay here and give him also a sign… to communicate once more that we took some action,” said Zierock. “We have to win the peace and not the war. And so we say always: Give peace a chance.”

Zierock wasn’t disappointed at his second papal audience, where Pope Francis reiterated his concern for Ukraine.

“[Ukraine] is a suffering people; [in the past] they have suffered famine, they have suffered so much cruelty and deserve peace,” said Pope Francis. “May the prayers and invocations that are being raised to heaven today touch the minds and hearts of those responsible on earth, so that dialogue may prevail and the good of all be put before the interests of one side. Please, let there never be war.”

Zierock says the pope could play a big role to help efforts.

“I think the Pope could play the role to give a bigger umbrella and to say, Okay, let’s find a structure in Europe where everybody has a feeling that he is secure and not one side thinks, I’m not protected and you are the aggressor,” said Zierock. “I think that is a possibility he has, and to organize by words, praying, but also by diplomatic activity.”

For more than 30 years, Society Culture of Peace has spearheaded a number of initiatives, including benefit concerts and conferences, to promote peace in places affected by conflict. The organization brings together artists, academics and peace activists driven by a common desire to put an end to wars.