Lenten Statement on War & the Earth

by Kayla S. Jacobs, Director of Programs, Laudato Si’ Ministries, Diocese of Joliet

A field of sunflowers (the Ukrainian national flower) with a blue ski above, appearing like the Ukrainian flag.

As we begin Lent, the season of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving, Pope Francis has called on us to pray and fast for the people of Ukraine, who are suffering from a heinous attack by Russia. We join the Pope and our Church in prayer and fasting.

Like many, we at the Laudato Si’ Ministries of the Diocese of Joliet, are gravely concerned with the atrocities of war, in the Ukraine and many other countries around the world. Not only does war destroy the image of God through the killing of people, who all have human dignity and are made in the image and likeness of God, but it also destroys nature, which “reflects the infinite beauty of the Creator” (CCC 341). 

War causes loss of human life. War is a catastrophe to the environment. It destroys ecosystems. It pollutes the air, soil, and water. It requires an absurd amount of greenhouse gasses. It over uses resources, especially financial resources, that should otherwise be used to help the poor (CCC 2315) and the earth. And, unfortunately, it is a cyclical problem: war perpetuates the climate crisis, the climate crisis causes war (“once certain resources have been depleted, the scene will be set for new wars,” LS 57). 

In the second reading on Ash Wednesday we are called “ambassadors for Christ” (2 Cor 5:20), as Christ’s ambassadors we must denounce all war as a not valid practice (“Divine Providence urgently demands of us that we free ourselves from the age-old slavery of war,” GS 81). The Earth and its people cannot bear the toll of war. 

“The Lord was stirred to concern for His land and took pity on His people,” (Joel 2:18, Ash Wednesday first reading) so do we. May the Lord have mercy on us. 

In addition to prayer and fasting you can give alms to Catholic Relief Services who are on the ground providing safe shelter, hot meals, hygiene supplies, fuel to keep warm, transport to safe areas, and counseling support for Ukrainian refugees. 

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