In a Feb. 21 statement, Supreme Knight Carl Anderson said the group has “been following the events unfolding in Ukraine,” recalling Pope Francis' words yesterday assuring the country of his “closeness.”
Pope Francis also prayed on Wednesday “for the victims of the violence, for their families, and for the injured,” and urged “all parties to cease every form of violence and to pursue harmony and peace throughout the country.”
Expressing the Knights' solidarity with the pontiff, Catholic Bishops and the Church in the Ukraine, Anderson asked “all of our members around the world to pray the Prayer of St. Francis this coming Sunday that there may be a renewed dialogue and respect and a peaceful resolution to the situation in Ukraine.”
This request comes in wake of deadly protests happening in the Ukraine's capitol, Kiev, which first began after the government's Nov. 21 announcement that it would not sign a major economic partnership agreement with the European Union in favor of a $15 billion bailout agreement with Russia.
Since then, protesters have occupied government buildings in Kiev, at times filling the capital’s Independence Square with more than 100,000 people.
Various news agencies have reported that protesters have been beaten by the police, while some young men have thrown fireworks and petrol bombs at officers. Several protesters have been killed in the clashes, while hundreds have been injured. Several police have also been killed.
Ukrainians in the Kiev area and in western Ukraine tend to favor the European Union, while those in the Russian-speaking east tend to have an affinity for Russia. However, protests have begun to spread to the east, where President Viktor Yanukovych’s strongest support is based.
On Jan. 28, Prime Minister Mykola Azarov and his cabinet resigned in hopes of advancing a compromise, and the country's parliament also voted overwhelmingly to annul controversial anti-protest laws, the BBC reports.
Along with their request, the Knights also sent the words to the famous prayer of St. Francis of Assisi, which is as follows:
Prayer of St. Francis
Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master,
Grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled, as to console;
To be understood, as to understand;
To be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
The Knights of Columbus have asked that the faithful join them in reciting the Prayer of St. Francis this coming Sunday, offering as an intention the end to the ongoing violence waging in Ukraine's capitol.
Violence, Protests, Ukraine