Cardinal Pietro Parolin offered Mass for peace in Ukraine on Thursday in the Basilica of St. Mary Major in Rome.
The Vatican secretary of state said in his homily on Nov. 17 that “there is no situation so compromised that the Spirit of God cannot resurrect.”
“This evening’s prayer for peace, which unites all our hearts, is rooted in this trust. We are witnessing the horror of a war which after so many months continues to sow destruction and death. We also see the failure of attempts to restore peace or find solutions that lead to it, while blood and tears continue to flow, in the increasingly painful grip of cold and darkness,” he said.
“Nonetheless, we raise our prayers to God for peace in Ukraine and in every country suffering from war, so that faith in his promises of life may not be lacking and that they will soon find fulfillment. In spite of failing human wills and efforts, let us ask God to pour out his Spirit on our humanity longing for peace, to be freed from the scourge of armed strife.”
The Mass marked the 30th anniversary of the restoration of diplomatic relations between the Holy See and Ukraine.
Pope John Paul II founded the Apostolic Nunciature in Kyiv and established diplomatic relations with Ukraine on Feb. 8, 1992, following the fall of the Soviet Union.
The diplomatic relationship between Ukraine and the Holy See dates back more than 100 years. Count Mykhailo Tyshkevych, the first Ukrainian ambassador to the Vatican, arrived in Rome in 1919 and presented his credentials to Pope Benedict XV. This relationship was interrupted for 71 years by the establishment of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic in 1922.
Ambassador Andrii Yurash, Ukraine’s ambassador to the Holy See, addressed the congregation at the end of the Mass.
Yurash, who arrived in Rome after Russia invaded Ukraine, said that in the war Ukraine is defending “not only its independence and identity from Russian aggressors, but also the principles on which the entire free democratic world is built.”
“The Holy See is a symbol of this free world. That is why it is so important for Ukraine that Ukraine and the Apostolic Capital together stand on the side of the Truth, building and affirming the victory of this truth and God’s justice,” the Ukrainian ambassador added.
Many of the religious sisters, priests, and ambassadors accredited to the Holy See who packed into the Marian basilica for the Mass wore ribbons with the colors of the Ukrainian flag that were distributed at the door of the basilica.
Dmytro Morozov, the artistic director of the Kharkiv Opera, played the organ for the Mass, which included traditional Ukrainian chant and hymns.
The prayers of the faithful included a prayer in Ukrainian: “O God who is love, the author of justice and peace, protect from all aggression the people who call upon you so that, trusting in your defense, they will not fear the weapons of any enemy.”
Pope Francis was not present at the Mass, but before the Mass the pope met privately with Ukrainian Archbishop Mieczysław Mokrzycki of Lviv and Bishop Jan Sobiło, an auxiliary bishop of Kharkiv-Zaporizhia in Ukraine.
In an interview published on Nov. 18, Pope Francis said that the Holy See is “willing to do everything possible to mediate and put an end to the conflict” in Ukraine.
“But everyone must commit to demilitarizing hearts, starting with their own, and then defusing, disarming violence. We must all be pacifists. Wanting peace, not just a truce that may only serve to rearm. Real peace, which is the fruit of dialogue,” the pope told the Italian newspaper La Stampa.
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.
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