"The abyss of weapons in Ukraine has opened: our rejection of war becomes an invocation". The words of Andrea Riccardi at the prayer for peace in Ukraine

Dear Sisters and Brothers,

this night the trumpet sounded and the angel opened with the key the pit of the abyss.

It is the image that we have heard in the book of Revelation that is like an icon that is drawn before us, smoke has come out of it like that of weapons or missiles, but also that of the misinformation of wartime or the strange pleasure that is often found in debates of playing war.

From the smoke come out locusts that torment men and women, they look like war horses with lions' teeth, iron armor like tanks, instruments of war. They are led by the angel of the abyss in Hebrew Abbadon, the exterminator in Greek.

Tonight or early this morning, the abyss of weapons and fighting in Ukraine has opened and we all feel great discouragement and have come here to express it. This war overwhelms a great and defenseless people and is the biggest war on European soil since 1945, at least for the size of the country it involves and for the fact that it involves a superpower.

Until yesterday, until last night, we were all free to ask for peace, to dream of peace, to hope for peace. A Pope, Pius XII, was right at the threshold of the world war when he said: "nothing is lost with peace everything can be lost with war, let men come back to understand each other, let them resume negotiations. Today with the war we are slaves of a destiny that is in the hands of very few and perhaps in the hands of chance. As John Paul II said: "war is an adventure with no return, an adventure whose future is unknown". There is talk of quick blitz wars and then the war lasts for years. No one knows where it is going and it sets in motion mechanisms that are sometimes uncontrollable.

There is a great pain in us, first of all there is a great pain for those who suffer, for those who have fallen, for those who flee, for the young lives put at risk, for our brothers and sisters in Ukraine, for our poor and then there is a great bitterness, bitterness for a squandered peace. The peace dreamed of since the fighting of the Second World War, in the German lagers, in the gulags, before and after '45. And by how many and with how much suffering. In 1989, with the fall of the Wall, it seemed that the time had finally come for a great Peace in place of the Cold War. A century of peace would have arisen, at least in Europe, where an important part of the Second World War had taken place, where so many people had been killed on the Polish and Belarusian and Ukrainian plains. Jews had been exterminated, many innocent civilians had died of violence and starvation, where so many soldiers had killed each other.

We were not able to build peace. First of all, and how many times we have said it, war has been revalued as an instrument to solve conflicts and to assert one's own visions. A very dangerous revaluation. We saw the danger coming from afar because, one after the other, moral and cultural resistance to war fell and the use of weapons became normalized.

The arms race has continued and the language between governments has become aggressive. In Europe nationalism has risen again, which in every country has different characteristics, but which always makes the other feel like a usurper and ourself like victims. They tried to gain their own interest and not the peace of all. Thus, we all lost.  

We have sometimes seen small men and women in positions of responsibility, unable to think globally to save the Peace. Not enough was learned from the history of pain, and as we moved into the future, we were building an old, old and so dangerous world.

After more than half a century of ecumenism, Christians in Ukraine, but everywhere, are divided and when they are divided they are irrelevant. Ever since the First World War, the fathers of ecumenism had been saying how much the divisions of Christians fostered war, and they drew from it an impetus to Christian unity. The great Athenagoras of Constantinople, who grew up and matured in the bloody crucible of the Balkans at the beginning of the century, used to say: "sister churches, brother peoples". Establishing a strong link between peace and Christian unity. Instead, a futile or parlor ecumenism, unaware that the problem is history and peace, not ecclesiastical courtesies or documents that pass, or visits between cousins, has been played by nationalisms. And the body of Christ is torn today by a war between peoples both reborn in baptism on the Dnepr River in Kiev. And after the ecclesiastical schisms came the war between brothers, but war is always fratricidal, and this war is!  

No European Church can say that it is not responsible for peace. What were we playing at when there were threatening skies of war? The mission of the Church is peace. It is not a matter of playing at being a church or holding conferences, or repeating words, but it is a matter of bringing the prophecy of peace to the world, like those who in Revelation received the seal and won the war by paying with their generosity and paying with their lives.

For this reason, for Christians, for peoples, for the Ukrainian people first of all, for the Russian people, it is the hour of mourning. There are different reasons, different responsibilities, but only one mourning!

We ask ourselves, should we resign ourselves to war? No, we will not, because it comes from the abyss of evil, because war is the worst torment of men and women, because war is radically inhuman and immoral!

In this hour of powerlessness, our rejection of war becomes an invocation to the one who scorns the powerful of the earth, to the one who sits on the throne of history. An invocation so that this war may end.  And the invocation is the protest of the Ukrainians, the invocation is the protest of all of us, the protest of Ukrainians who flee the cities, of others who lock themselves in their homes. Perhaps there are a few old people left who still remember the painful experience of the war of 1939-45. A painful and dramatic experience.

We know, we have known for decades, we have known for a century, the Popes have taught us, not only is war useless, not only is it immoral, but war is diabolical.

The great fresco of the Apocalypse tells us that war has a limit, it is spoken of as 5 months. But we pray that it may be shortened, shortened, and shortened even more the time of war.

We pray to you Lord hear us. Hear us! With faith, with insistence we pray to you for our brothers and sisters, for the poor, we pray to you for everyone. These days, in front of the icon of the mother of God, in front of the Lord who is the king of history, we want to make our poor invocation rise like incense. It is an expression of trust in the one who protects peace, in the one who is Wisdom in a world of fools, in the one who looks at the little ones, the poor, the children and the elderly affected by war.  

Lord, hear us!