Pope Francis talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin during a private audience at the Vatican July 4, 2019. (CNS/Paul Haring)

The Catholic Church and Ukraine

Pope Francis has communicated through prayer and both practical and symbolic action the importance of solidarity with the Ukraine people during these egregious violations of international law and sovereignty on the part of Russia.

Despite his frail health, on February 25, 2022, he personally went to the Russian Embassy to express his displeasure and concerns.

Last year he visited Iraq out of solidarity with the struggling and persecuted Christians there. Do you realize what positive witness these actions are to non-Catholics as well as Catholics? The pope is putting into practice the social justice teachings of the Church that achieved world-wide recognition with Leo XIII’s Rerum Novarum and have continued in subsequent papacies, gaining even greater prominence with the popes following Pius XII.

Many consider St. Paul VI’s 1967 encyclical Populorum Progressio to be a seminal document in this genre. Pope Benedict’s encyclical Spes Salvi drew extensively from it, more than any previous pope had drawn from one of his predecessor’s documents. St. John Paul II was recognized by the Soviet Prime Minister Mikhail Gorbachev as being instrumental in the collapse of Soviet Communism and the subsequent tearing down of the Berlin Wall.

Catholic means universal, and justice is a fundamental attribute of God and Christians. Jesus is the prince of peace, and blessed are the peacemakers. May we join Pope Francis in prayer and action in solidarity with the Ukrainian people and all those subject to tyranny, terrorism, and violence.

As St. Paul VI proclaimed in his October 4, 1965 address to the United Nations, “no more war, no more war.”