Christian response to Ukraine crisis 'must be rooted in prayer', say Archbishops

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The Archbishops of Canterbury and York have written a pastoral letter to the clergy and people of the Church of England asking them to pray for peace in Ukraine.

The letter laments Russia's invasion, which it says is a powerful reminder "that peace is precious and it is fragile".

The Archbishops said Russia's actions had "rightly provoked outrage, sanctions and condemnation", and that the country should agree to an immediate ceasefire and withdrawal of its forces.

"Many of us will have troubled hearts as we watch with horror the attack by Russia on Ukraine," the Archbishops said.

"As we have already said, this attack is an act of evil, imperilling as it does the relative peace and security that Europe has enjoyed for so long.

"The attack by one nation on a free, democratic country has rightly provoked outrage, sanctions and condemnation." 

The Archbishops said they were praying for "the innocent, the frightened and those who have lost loved ones, homes, and family".

They are asking Christians to join in a number of prayer initiatives taking place in response to the crisis. 

The first is on Sunday, when Christians and churches across the UK will join in a day of prayer for peace. 

This will be followed by a Diocese in Europe prayer vigil taking place online at 6pm GMT on 1 March. 

The Archbishops are also encouraging Christians to join in the day of prayer and fasting for peace called by Pope Francis on Ash Wednesday, 2 March. 

"In these days of uncertainty and fear, we pray that each of us might again turn to the Lord and receive God's gift of peace, work for God's justice, know God's reconciliation and love, and choose paths not of hatred or destruction, of violence or retribution, but God's way of justice, mercy and peace," the Archbishops continued.

"As Christians, our response to a crisis must always be rooted in prayer." 

The Church of England has produced resources which are available online.

The Archbishops added, "However and whenever you pray, pray that the world may choose peace, and be assured of our prayers for you."