In a sermon delivered at the Saints-Michel-et-Gudule Cathedral in Brussels, Belgium’s Catholic cardinal Jozef De Kesel has called for solidarity with Ukraine and an end to war, which has already claimed the lives of over 500 Ukrainian civilians.
Speaking at Sunday mass, the cardinal implored his congregation to “resist with weapons of faith, which are solidarity and prayer. Yes, with these arms, and not with others.”
The sermon for peace was held alongside Bishop Borys Sviatoslav from the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, as well as Franco Coppola, Apostolic Nuncio to Belgium and Luxembourg. It served as an opportunity for different religious communities to come together and pray for Ukraine.
The eucharist was delivered in three different languages, French, Dutch, and Ukrainian, and singers from Belgium’s Ukrainian Greek-Catholic community lead celebrations with songs in their language.
A regression to Europe's war-torn past
Cardinal De Kesel, who led the sermon, warned that violence had returned to the European continent and warned of the “instrumentalisation” of religion towards “objectives that are not only foreign but contrary” to the Christian faith.
“After the Second World War, we all agreed to say ‘never more!’ Yet now it has started again. How is this possible?” the Cardinal asked.
According to De Kesel, the conflict in Ukraine is driven by Putin's nostalgic thirst for power. The Cardinal warned that Russian expansion in Europe would lead to suffering and misery on the European continent.
“This is what it is ultimately about…the desire for power and the fear of losing it. This nostalgic reconquest of a so-called glorious past, which is at the origin of so much injustice and ultimately war, with all its atrocities,” De Kesel believes.
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The Catholic church has taken a firm position against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. At a Sunday blessing in front of thousands of people in the Vatican’s historic St Peter’s Square, the Pope rebuked Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, calling Russian strikes on children’s hospitals and civilians “barbaric.”
During the 19 days of Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, the Ukrainian civilian population has been subjected to intense bombing of residential areas and other suspected war crimes by Russian forces.
The Pope called for an end to Russia’s bombing campaign and for the implementation of humanitarian corridors for civilians. “In the name of God, I ask: ‘Stop this massacre,’” the Pope told his followers.