JPIC Co-Secretary in Kyiv
World Religious Leaders Travelled to Pray in Kyiv
A high-level delegation of religious leaders travelled to Kyiv in an emergency intervention seeking to contribute to ending aggression against Ukraine, the bombing of Ukrainian cities, and to pray for a just peace. The leaders met in Warsaw, Poland, and travelled 14-hours by bus to Kyiv, Ukraine, on May 24 and returned to Warsaw on May 26.
In March, Mayor Vitali Klitschko of Kyiv, Ukraine's besieged capital, issued a call to the religious leaders to come to Kyiv: "I make an appeal to the world's spiritual leaders to take a stand and assume the moral function that is incumbent upon them, and to proudly assume the responsibility of their religions for peace," said Klitschko. "Come to Kyiv to show solidarity with the Ukrainian people. To show compassion, and to join together in a spirit of harmony that my country and the whole world needs. Let us make Kyiv the capital of humanity, spirituality, and peace."
This May, religious leaders from around the world have answered Klitschko's plea, Sr. Sheila Kinsey, FCJM, co-secretary of JPIC. More than a dozen leaders and people of faith from the major world religions arrived in Kyiv on Tuesday, 24 May to engage in prayer, pastoral accompaniment, and distribution of humanitarian aid, as well as key encounters with peacebuilders, religious leaders, and political leaders. "We are here to demand that bombing of Ukrainian cities must stop," said Dr. Mateusz Piotrowski, one of the lead organizers and president of "Europe, a Patient": "We want to contribute to strengthening humanitarian corridors. We also hope that interventions of religious leaders, in the form of recurrent vigils for just peace in other cities endangered by bombing, could provide an important instrument of peacebuilding - in Ukraine and elsewhere." The delegation held public outdoor prayer services on Tuesday, 24 May at Babyn Yar and on Wednesday at 12:00 PM (noon) in Kyiv.
According to Sr. Sheila, "We responded to this call from our charism and spirituality. We were together: Christians, Muslims, and Jews. It was very moving to me visiting a Muslim school, where the children had to leave quickly on February 24: you saw the little jackets on the chairs, the area with the dish washing open. I was just wondering what their parents would say to the children to pick them up so fast. How they reassured them. We were there to pray and to be in solidarity. During the prayers in the Saint Sophia Cathedral, we experienced the strong feeling to be attended by God, in the strengths of our prayers, each speaking from our own tradition to be real instruments of peace, trying to be what we were praying for".