“The current situation represents a great danger for the countries of Central and Eastern Europe and the entire European continent, which may destroy the progress made so far by many generations in building a peaceful order and unity in Europe,” their appeal, also signed by other bishops, said.
Ukraine, which has a population of 44 million people, borders Moldova, Romania, Hungary, Slovakia, Poland, Belarus, and Russia.
The Russo-Ukrainian War began in February 2014, focused on the east of Ukraine. The conflict has claimed more than 14,000 lives and driven 1.3 million people from their homes, according to Caritas Internationalis, a Vatican-based confederation of Catholic charities raising funds for those affected.
The warring parties agreed to a cease-fire in July 2020. But Russia has sent an estimated 100,000 troops to the Ukrainian border. U.S. President Joe Biden said on Jan. 19 that he expected Russian President Vladimir Putin to order an invasion.
The U.S. State Department said on Jan. 23 that it had ordered the departure of family members of U.S. government employees at the U.S. embassy in Kyiv.
In their joint message, the bishops of Ukraine and Poland called for a diplomatic solution to the crisis.
“Today, the quest for alternatives to war in resolving international conflicts has become an urgent necessity, since the terrifying power of the means of destruction are now in the hands of even medium and small powers, and the increasingly strong ties existing between the peoples of the whole earth make it difficult, if not practically impossible, to limit the effects of any conflict,” they said.
“Therefore, drawing on the experience of previous generations, we call upon those in power to refrain from hostilities. We encourage leaders to immediately withdraw from the path of ultimatums and the use of other countries as bargaining chips.”
“Differences in interests must be resolved not by the use of arms, but through agreements. The international community should unite in solidarity and actively support endangered society in all possible ways.”
Courtney Mares is a Rome Correspondent for Catholic News Agency. A graduate of Harvard University, she has reported from news bureaus on three continents and was awarded the Gardner Fellowship for her work with North Korean refugees.