Christians have come together on Ash Wednesday to pray and fast for Ukraine.

Pope Francis asked that Christians observe Ash Wednesday as a day of prayer and fasting for an immediate end to Russia’s war in Ukraine and a return to peace.

He shared a prayer on his Twitter saying “never again war!”.

“With war everything is lost,” he said, asking that God would give people “courage to take concrete steps to achieve peace”.

Monsignor Gintaras Grušas, Archbishop of Vilnius in Lithuania and President of the Council of Bishops’ Conferences of Europe, said, “The reasons for peace are stronger than any calculation of special interests and any reliance on the use of weapons.”

The Catholic Bishop of Plymouth, Mark O’Toole, told Vatican Radio, “Approaching this holy season of Lent and these disciplines which have been given to us of prayer, of fasting, and almsgiving, we can focus in a particular way this Lent to hope to draw down the fruits of God’s grace through the little sacrifices that we undertake for our beloved brothers and sisters who are suffering in this part of our continent.

“Where there is a lack of love, where there is immense suffering, where there is immense hardship; yes we seek to practically assist but through the weapons of prayer and of fasting we seek to bring God’s grace into those situations.” 

In a pastoral letter, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, and the Archbishop of York, Stephen Cottrell, endorsed the call and urged Anglicans to participate in the day of prayer and fasting. 

Archbishop Welby said on Twitter, “On Ash Wednesday we face our frailty and mortality.

“As we are invited to place all of our hope in God’s triumph over death and destruction through Christ, we pray especially for Ukraine and all those who are suffering, scared, and aware of fragility today.”

Cottrell added, “Archbishop Justin Welby and I are encouraging people to join with the wider church in the Pope’s call to make today a day of prayer and fasting for peace.

“However and whenever you pray, pray that the world may choose peace.”

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