Catholics urged to pray for peace in Ukraine 

A Ukrainian priest in Edinburgh has said his homeland needs prayers and action as the Pope said Ash Wednesday would be a day of fasting for peace. 

As the situation in eastern Europe continues to escalate with Russian troops massed on the Ukrainian border, Fr Vasyl Kren, parish priest of St Andrew’s Ukrainian Catholic Church in Edinburgh, warned against world leaders giving strong words without actions to back them up. 

“We have to remember the mistakes of history and pray to not repeat them,” he said. “As Catholics we have to believe and be sure that God is love, slow to anger, but that he is a source of justice as well.” 

Earlier today Pope Francis announced that the second of  March, Ash Wednesday would be a Day of Fasting for Peace.

“I encourage believers in a special way to dedicate themselves intensely to prayer and fasting on that day. May the Queen of Peace preserve the world from the madness of war,” he said.

Fr Kren’s parish was founded after World War Two, serving the Ukrainian Catholic community in Edinburgh. Many Ukrainians came to Scotland after having fought in the war or in the rebuilding of post-war Britain. 

Fr Kren said Scottish Catholics had provided great solace to his community with their sustained prayers for peace since fighting began in his country in 2014 and said Archbishop Cushley of St Andrews and Edinburgh had visited them regularly. 

The Ukrainian community in Edinburgh is very aware of the violent history of their homeland, the priest said, invoking the Holodomor, a man-made famine inflicted on Ukraine by Stalin that killed millions. “[Many have] a genetic memory of Holodomor, Stalin’s repression, and the repression of the Catholic Church in Ukraine.”

Read the full interview with Fr Kren in the new edition of the Scottish Catholic, out this Friday. 

Caption: A Russian tank near the border with Ukraine. CNS.

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