Pax Christi USA condemns the Russian invasion and bombardment of cities throughout Ukraine that commenced earlier today. As St. John Paul II said in 2003 in response to the build-up and subsequent war in Iraq, “War is always a defeat for humanity.” The invasion of Ukraine is a direct violation of international law. The death and destruction already unleashed has only frustrated the hope for a just resolution of differences. To continue this war will only undermine long-term peace for the region. War does not solve the historical and political challenges at the root of this conflict; war is not the vehicle for creating a just peace.

Pax Christi USA is particularly troubled by Russia’s heavy-handed allusions to its nuclear weapons arsenal and the implied threat of the use of nuclear weapons in the conflict. As explained by the International Campaign Against Nuclear Weapons, such threats are prohibited by the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and elevates the risk of a massive humanitarian catastrophe. 

Pax Christi USA urges the international community to stand united against the invasion of Ukraine and in support of diplomacy and dialogue to bring this crisis to an end. We urge the United States and NATO to refrain from pursuing military responses and to pursue solutions that address the context and complexity of the root causes which gave rise to the crisis in the first place. It should not be lost that in addition to Russian aggression, the expansion of NATO with the proliferation of bases, the continued manufacturing of weapons of war, and the reliance on security upheld by military power has played a significant role in the events building up to this current crisis. This war is additional evidence of the failure of policies predicated on the threat of violence to deliver the peace and dignity the human family deserves.

We urge political leaders, the media and influential voices within the U.S. Catholic community to refuse to beat the drums of war and to not support efforts to justify U.S. or NATO military action nor increase the flow of arms into the conflict. Such a response will only assure that the current violence will spiral ever more deeply and make even more unlikely the possibilities for an end to this war through dialogue and diplomacy.

We implore members of the Pax Christi USA community, U.S. Catholics, and people of faith everywhere to join together in the day of prayer and fasting for peace in Ukraine called for by Pope Francis on March 2, Ash Wednesday. We encourage our community to publicly vigil in support of peace on this day.

Our hearts are with all those in Ukraine who tremble in fear at the violence which has overturned their lives. Our hearts break for the losses already experienced, the suffering, displacement and death that cannot be erased. We stand with the people of Ukraine and all who are crying out for peace, and we join our voices to the plea of Pope Francis, “War, never again!”

>> Find resources for prayer, study and action on the Ukraine crisis at this link.

11 thoughts on “Pax Christi USA’s statement on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine

  1. It is worth the trouble to read an English translation of Putin’s speech before the invasion. The substance of the speech was not adequately covered by the US media or by US officials. Putin refers to Russia’s repeated efforts to get the US and NATO to agree to mutual security arrangements and presented a draft treaty for consideration. Putin also referred to the principle of “equal and indivisible security” embedded in the 1999 OSCE Charter for European Security and in the 2010 OSCE Astana Declaration —states should not strengthen their own security at the expense of another state’s security. Putin argues that NATO has been ignoring this principle in its efforts to push eastward over the years. The Russian mutual security overtures were minimized by NATO according to Putin. Since people of peace believe in negotiations, it is important to know whether NATO and the US negotiated the proffered treaty or the Russian security concerns. Putin says his offer to negotiate was sidelined and not seriously addressed after numerous attempts. He evidently concluded that negotiations in good faith would not occur. Is this an accurate account by Putin? Why have we not heard any details about the US/NATO responses to Russia’s specific points? Why has the media failed to report and analyze Putin’s speech in detail? Did a failure to negotiate Russia’s security concerns cause Russia’s following actions in order to avoid a serious national security threat as a fait accompli?

    1. Thanks William. Read the link in the statement at the phrase “the expansion of NATO” which goes to a good piece that unpacks much of what has led to this point.

  2. Would NATO eventually invade Russia? Despite actions by NATO that are suspect, I don’t think so. It seems that the entire situation needs an intervention(even at this point–after Russia has invaded)by an outside global body. Perhaps the UN/World Court, as someone suggested in a different “Reply”. And, not to be discounted, the involvement of spiritual figures, such as Pope Francis/Dalai Lama as well as the Court being composed of developed and developing countries. What is strikingly evident is the futility of war in bringing about a settlement of issues that depend on “Trust”, “Respect”, and “Honoring the dignity of others”. Pray, turn out publicly where possible, and contact representatives with a reminder to keep a consideration of dialogue and a peaceful a possibility, no matter how seemingly distant. Regardless of the lack of movement in dialogue/discussions, an invasion with accompanying deaths/injuries/destruction should NOT be an option and always be deemed unacceptable. It is up to humanity to provide a mechanism, when dialogue is stalemated,
    to which the aggrieved parties can turn. Peace-it begins with each of us!

    1. While you may not think that NATO would invade Russia or otherwise act against Russia’s security interests with force or a threat of force, the Russian government sees it much differently than a civilian thousands of miles away from Russia. It cannot afford to hope for the best any more than the US can. I have read that there is a missile base in Poland less than 100 miles from Moscow—why? There has been an eastward thrust of NATO for 20 years which is contrary to assurances given in the 90s by US presidents. Be reminded of the Monroe Doctrine of the US which was asserted again in the very recent past by the US. Statesmen have a duty to prevent war, and the US/NATO crew did not do that. Russia put forward a draft treaty of mutual security arrangements which was not treated seriously by NATO/US according to the Russians and also in press reports. A reasonable objective observer would likely conclude that Russia has legitimate security concerns.

  3. Your article and subsequent comments on the Ukraine dilemma are thoughtful and true. There is hope and you expressed it beautifully. We all should fall in line with your recommendations and in doing so improve ourselves to be worthy of the name Peacemakers. Thank you.

  4. While your group seeks peace, the courage of the Ukrainian people under fire must be applauded.

  5. US, CANADA, UKRAINE AND RUSSIA 2022 DISPUTES – HISTORICAL BACKGROUND AND SEQUEL TO FR. PETER MORELLO’S COMMENTS: (1) US, Canada, Ukraine and Russia are Caucasian-European nations by ethnic majority and nominally Christian nations by religious majority; (2) Ukraine and Russia are also Slavic nations and neighbors with similar laws (limits) on abortion and LGBT; (3) Russia was US’ supporter in the American Revolution at great cost to herself – the island of Menorca; (4) Russia was US’ supporter in the Civil War when US’ opponents were Britain and France, prompting US Secretary of Navy, Gideon Welles to say “God bless the Russians”; (5) US (western Alaska) and Russia are neighbors, and Canada (northwestern Yukon) is closer to Russia than to Britain and France or Mexico; (6) US and Russia were never at war, not counting the Cold War or proxy wars, as compared, for example, with the “G7” nations; (7) US, Canada, NATO and Ukraine have disputes with Russia since the 1999 NATO bombing of Yugoslavia and militarization of countries neighboring Russia which was invaded over the centuries by NATO members Britain, France, Germany, (Mussolini’s) Italy, Romania, Lithuania-Poland, Turkey and by others including Sweden and the Mongols who inflicted on Ukraine and Russia death and destruction with hardly any parallels in world’s history – Germany also helped Lenin to impose psychopathic and deadly Marxism on Ukraine and Russia in 1917, while Ukraine and Russia, mostly by themselves, prevented Poland’s annihilation by Nazis and saved Europe from Nazi Germany and Mongols; (8) Ukraine and Russia have a border dispute, and a military conflict-war since the violations of the February 21, 2014 all-Ukrainian political agreement in Kiev and the violations of the 2014-2015 Minsk Peace Agreement signed by Ukraine, Russia, Germany and France (in the future, a joint venture by the Minsk signatories in securing Ukrainian segment of “Pan-European” gas pipeline might be a “win-win”) – by February 23, 2022 the war took some 15,000 lives and produced thousands of refugees as well as widespread material destruction in eastern Ukraine; on February 24, 2022 Russia escalated the war and invaded Ukraine resulting in many more deaths, refugees and material destruction across Ukraine; (9) US and Russia can destroy each other and the world with their nuclear weapons in an hour; (10) the irreplaceable way forward for resolving these issues are the eternally-valid biblical principles reflected in President Washington’s Farewell Address in which he called religion-morality the foundation of domestic well-being and peace with other nations and in President Lincoln’s last Inaugural Address “… with malice towards none, with charity for all … among ourselves and with all nations”, as well as in Pope Francis’ 2022 call for prayer and political talks centered on “human brotherhood instead of partisan interests”, all the while keeping in mind the 2022 Lenten message “Remember thou art dust and to dust thou shalt return” and “Repent and believe in the Gospel” which also includes “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor” and the parable of “the speck and the log” – moral principles given to us by Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace and the just Judge of the world, principles ignored at one’s great peril.

  6. At this point, the actions of V. Putin cannot be justified in any way. Creating death, destruction, and misery can never be presented in a light that implies that there was no other choice. I am not implying that any of the previous responses are meant to present V. Putin’s actions in a positive way, not even the least. Whether fomented by actions of NATO, US, Russia, China, Iran, or any other nation, actions which seek to harm(and in this case devastate) other people must be abhorred and opposed. In my opinion, this should be done without seeking to harm anyone, using a nonviolent retaliation. There have been some reports that there may be a slight bit of movement in the negotiation realm. Ironically, this movement seems to be based upon reconsideration of many of the Minsk agreement’s terms. This is worth a huge gasp as we ponder the huge loss of life, injuries, and destruction of the environment in Ukraine. Although the reporting now seems to emphasize a reliance on a military solution, let us pray that all sides realize(on some level) that a spiritual element is sustaining the Ukrainian people and is needed as a foundation for any hope of a lasting settlement. May the Russian and Ukrainian Churches find a spiritual union that can influence decisions. May Pope Francis’ exhortations for dialogue be heeded. May the spirit of restorative justice be incorporated that might allow any party to admit coercion or direct actions that may have led to the current conflict. And, may governments work together to support the betterment of their constituents–not as adversaries but as representing different means to attaining the same goal(mutual respect and improvement of lives). Should there be no sides but rather a shared humanity? Let us all begin with creating and sustaining peace in our own individual lives.

  7. Let’s be clear. President Biden messed up the Afghanistan pullout and the Ukrainian war is a godsend to him. Like an adolescent who fears what her friends are saying about her online, he fears Republican criticism of his Afghanistan fiasco and now must show them, us, and the world that he’s a tough guy, no matter what it costs in lives and treasure and, yes . . . even the risk of nuclear Armageddon.
    David-Ross Gerling, PhD

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