Ash Wednesday begins on March 2, marking the 40 day season of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving within the Catholic Church. Christian leaders have urged the faithful to pray for people suffering due to the war in Ukraine while calling for an unconditional ceasefire.
The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI), National Council of Churches of India (NCCI), the apex body of Protestant and Orthodox churches, and the Evangelical Fellowship of India (EFI), 'moved by the pain and suffering of the people of Ukraine caused by war' has joined world leaders and 'the leadership of respective (Christian) global and regional communions in calling for an unconditional ceasefire.'
The continuing military invasion launched by Russia against the Republic of Ukraine has thrown the world into a state of turmoil.
According to media reports, Indian citizens caught in the conflict are being evacuated by the Indian government through special flights through alternative routes after Ukraine closed its airspace for passenger movement.
The ecumenical fellowships in India, together in solidarity with all people of goodwill, are encouraged to observe March 2 as a day of prayer and fasting.
A statement was issued on February 28, signed by CBCI General Secretary Archbishop Felix Machado of Vasai, NCCI General Secretary Reverend Asir Ebenezer, and Reverend Vijayesh Lal, secretary-general of the EFI.
The statement said that although they looked forward to the special day of prayer, there was a need “to begin and keep praying with intensity even now, as the conflict continues to rage with every passing day, not showing any signs of abatement.”
The church leaders said, “We uphold the citizens and inhabitants of Ukraine, especially the elderly, sick, people with disability, women, and children who are most often among the greatest targets of violence and war.”
“We believe that we have a responsibility to pray for the transformation of leaders who take up arms in anger or revenge. May God’s protection and providence be upon Ukraine and Russia by which the entire region shall experience peace forever,” they said.
In a separate statement issued on February 25, CBCI President Archbishop Filipe Neri Ferrão of Goa and Daman said, “As followers of the Prince of Peace, we cannot remain indifferent to this grave situation."
He added: Our Holy Father, Pope Francis himself, has given a universal call to make the forthcoming Ash Wednesday, March 2, a day of fasting and prayer, particularly for peace in Ukraine and Russia. In solidarity with the pope, I too urge you to lead your local churches, your clergy, religious and the lay faithful to spend this day in prayer and fasting for the end of the violence which is afflicting the Ukrainian and the Russian people.”
Radio Veritas Asia (RVA), a media platform of the Catholic Church, aims to share Christ. RVA started in 1969 as a continental Catholic radio station to serve Asian countries in their respective local language, thus earning the tag “the Voice of Asian Christianity.” Responding to the emerging context, RVA embraced media platforms to connect with the global Asian audience via its 21 language websites and various social media platforms.