Pope calls for global day of ‘prayer for peace’ on Ukraine crisis

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Pope Francis celebrates a Holy Mass, held annually on the third Sunday in January to celebrate and study the Word of God, in St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican January 23, 2022. REUTERS/Remo Casilli

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VATICAN CITY, January 23 (Reuters) – Pope Francis on Sunday called for an international day of “prayer for peace” on January 26 to prevent the Ukraine crisis from worsening, saying tensions threatened the security of the Europe and could have wide-ranging repercussions.

Francis announced the day of prayer and called for dialogue to defuse the crisis during his weekly address and blessing to pilgrims and tourists in St. Peter’s Square.

On Friday, senior US and Russian diplomats failed to make a major breakthrough in talks to resolve the Ukraine crisis, although they agreed to keep talking. On Sunday, Britain accused Russia of seeking to install a pro-Russian leader in Ukraine. Read more

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“I follow with concern the rise in tensions which threatens to deal a further blow to peace in Ukraine and to doubt the security of Europe, with even wider repercussions,” he said.

He called on “all people of good will” to pray next Wednesday that all political initiatives “are at the service of human fraternity” rather than partisan interests. The Vatican gave no immediate details on how the pope would mark the day.

“Those who pursue their interests by harming others despise his vocation as a man, because we were all created as brothers,” he said, without further details.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken met Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Friday and warned of a “swift and harsh” response if Russia invades Ukraine after massing troops near its border. Read more

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Reporting by Philip Pullella Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky

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