“A journey between pain and hope”: Franciscans visit Ukraine

Two Franciscan friars, representing the entire Order, join an interreligious pilgrimage of solidarity with the Ukrainian people. They bring their closeness and their word of hope to the victims of the current war, “madness” and “a defeat for humanity”, in the words of Pope Francis.

Sebastien Samson Ferrari – Vatican News

“Tomorrow I leave for Ukraine for an interreligious pilgrimage of solidarity with the Ukrainian people and to visit the brothers and the people of this land.” It’s him Tweeter of the brother Massimo Fusarelli, Minister General of the Franciscan Friars Minor, published last Saturday, April 9, in which he announces the expedition. He is accompanied by Fra Francesco Piloni, Provincial Minister of Assisi. The tour scheduled for April 10-16 covers Romania, Ukraine and Poland.

The Order’s press release indicates that the Minister General, in the name of his entire family and of the Franciscan reality, of the consecrated brothers, of the friends of the lay family and of all the volunteers, will be present in the zone of conflict and in neighboring countries to listen, welcome and be a sign of closeness to all those who live and suffer today from the deep wounds of war.

The delegation of religious leaders making this visit, which the Brothers define as “crucial” for the refugee camps and the city of Chernivtsi, is made up of the Archbishop Emeritus of Canterbury; Rowan Williams (Anglican, from UK); Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg; Grand Mufti (emeritus) Mustafa Ceric (Muslim, from Bosnia); Orthodox Archbishop Nikitas Lulias (United Kingdom); Grand Imam Yahya Pallavicini (Muslim, from Italy); the Hindu Swami Sarvapriyananda (India/USA) and the Buddhist abbess Sister Giác Nghiêm (France).

From April 13, the Minister General will continue his visit to a house of brothers of the Greek-Catholic rite and to two houses of brothers in the Province of San Miguel, also meeting refugees and people in need of assistance. Moreover, he will conclude his visit to Poland with a meeting in Kalwaria with the brothers and the many refugees who have found hospitality there.

The Brethren’s statement says that the highlight of the delegation’s visit will be a public event, which can be watched live at www.FaithinUkraine.com/Stream and will take place on April 12 at the Main Theater in Chernivtsi ( Ukraine). The remarks of the participants of the delegation will be accompanied by the testimonies of the refugees. It will be the first public act authorized in the theater since the beginning of the war.

It is an event and an occasion of historic significance. James Sternlicht, founder of the Department of Peace, said, “At this time, in a world shrouded in profound darkness, we must come together to heal humanity.” Rabbi Goshen-Gottstein, founder and executive director of the Elijah Interfaith Institute, echoed this sentiment: “To my knowledge, this is the first time that an interfaith delegation has undertaken a mission of friendship and solidarity, entering a country at war. This is even more remarkable considering the high level of religious representatives.”

Brotherhood in the Dark Night

The ultimate goal of the mission, organized by the institutions The Department of Peace and the Elijah Interfaith Instituteis to show by example that in times of war and division “we can and must continue to appeal to the highest values ​​of humanity which unite us and unite all religious denominations”.

The Department of Peace is, according to its website, a new type of non-profit organization, designed to solve problems of global coordination and make philanthropy and impact investing efficient and scalable.

For his part, the Elijah Interfaith Institute It aims, according to the description available on its website, “to create a community of religious leaders, scholars and practitioners of all faiths, who are inspired to find new ways to share the wisdom of their traditions with each other. others and to build bridges between them”. .and society”. He adds that the figure of Elijah is recognized and venerated in Jewish, Christian and Muslim traditions.

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