The Escalating Situation in Ukraine:
What Is To Be Done?
Tuesday, February 8, 2022
Greetings of peace!

Something chillingly familiar is happening as tensions escalate along the Ukrainian-Russian border: the media is beating war drums instead of imagining peace. 

We have been here before: justifications for military violence have long allowed the threats of war and U.S. imperialism to spread. Unfortunately, some Catholic media have joined their secular counterparts in promoting military aggression.

Last month, America Magazine published an article justifying military action against Russia. Once again, we saw just war theory rearing its ugly head to justify military action. The tired language of “proportionality” and “last resort” was invoked, but the word nonviolence (or even a nod to the teaching) didn’t appear in the piece. Unfortunately, this isn’t an isolated incident: “just” war talk is appearing in other Catholic outlets, too.

These arguments are familiar to Catholics. They are the same thrown about in the early 2000’s to justify U.S. aggression against the people of Afghanistan and Iraq. Even before that shameful chapter in our history, a warmongering press, religious authorities, and “thought leaders” writing in service of empire have long made way for the horrors of state-sanctioned violence.

Beloved Pax Christi family, we must once again rise to stop proponents of militarism from misrepresenting Catholic teaching in the service of war. It is imperative that Catholic peacemakers advocate boldly for the present magisterial teaching on peace and seek a nonviolent resolution at the Ukrainian border. We must allow God to "guide our feet into the way of peace." (Luke 1:79)

Following Pope Francis’ call for a day of prayer on January 26, 2022 and ongoing efforts for peacemaking and diplomacy, this Pray-Study-Act alert focuses on how to resist calls for war from a few of our fellow Catholics by promoting nonviolent alternatives.
In peace,

John Noble
Development Director, Pax Christi USA
Prayer for Peace in Ukraine
Adapted from Pope Francis
"I ask you to pray the Our Father for peace in Ukraine, now and throughout this Day.

"Let us ask God to grant that the country may grow in the spirit of kinship, and that all hurts, fears and divisions will be overcome. We have spoken about the Holocaust. But let us think too that [in Ukraine] millions of people were killed. They are a people who have suffered; they have suffered from hunger, suffered from much brutality and they deserve peace.

"May the prayers and supplications that today rise up to heaven touch the minds and hearts of world leaders, so that dialogue may prevail and the common good be placed ahead of partisan interests.

"Please, no more war."
>> For the past few years, Pax Christi members and groups have been reciting this "Prayer for Disarmament" by Kim Vanderheiden of Pax Christi Northern California.
Pax Christi International's Letter to Pope Francis
Calling for Peace in Ukraine

To prevent war at this eleventh hour would be a miracle – but such a miracle is possible.

There are many parallels between the crisis in Ukraine and the Cuban Missile Crisis. Similar to the previous geopolitical conflict, the current brinkmanship could spin tragically out of control and at the moment does not seem to offer a route to a peaceful settlement. But in 1962 Saint Pope John XXIII opened a way where there was none. He brought his spiritual commitment to peace, his constructive proposals, and, most importantly, his openness to each party and their needs. With these three gifts, he created the space for dialogue and mutual trust that were critical to resolving a dangerous struggle.

Another miracle is possible. We pray that you, Holy Father, might help to open the way for the Russian leader and the second U.S. Catholic president to dialogue and even to build trust, echoing the way Saint Pope John XXIII brought the Soviet leader and the first U.S. Catholic president together to do so.
>> Last week, Pax Christi USA joined 100 U.S. organizations urging Biden “to end the U.S. role in escalating” the Ukraine crisis. Read the statement here.

>> Read Commonweal’s editorial calling for a diplomatic resolution, which reads, in part: “The solution to Russian saber-rattling is not American saber-rattling, and it would be foolish to try to shore up the credibility of the United States by risking an armed conflict with another nuclear power.”
Promote Catholic teaching on peacemaking and nonviolence
Promote Peace in the Press:

Write to Catholic media (America, National Catholic Reporter, Catholic News Service, etc.) and exhort them not to publish pro-war pieces, but to instead focus on promoting Catholic teaching on nonviolence.

See Catholic Relief Service’s website for tips on writing a letter to the editor at this link.
Promote Prayers for Peace:

Host a liturgy to pray for peace using this service from the Catholic Nonviolence Initiative.

Encourage your parish’s leaders to include Catholic teachings on nonviolence in homilies, prayers of the faithful, and communications when discussing Ukraine. For local actions, click here.
Educate yourself on nonviolence and urge your Congressional representatives to choose peace.

Learn about active nonviolence, and how this framework can "resist war and build peace" in Ukraine and around the world, with this resource from the Catholic Nonviolence Initiative.

Learn more about how a just peace framework can promote "political cooperation for the common good," and the norms that are at the heart of this framework, with this CNI document.

After learning more about active nonviolence and the just peace framework, promote it to your congressional representatives with this tool from the Sisters of Mercy: Tell Congress: War is Not the Answer in Ukraine!
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