Cardinal Marx: Ukraine Crisis Prompts Reflection on Church's Commitment to Europe

Head of COMECE Stresses Importance of Church’s Role in Crisis

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One of Pope Francis’ closest advisers has warned that the situation in Crimea is one of the most difficult foreign policy crises Europe has faced in many years.

The territory is at the center of mounting tension after a referendum on Sunday showed the majority of the peninsula’s citizens wish to be independent of Ukraine and join Russia.

Russia, which has refused to recognize Ukraine’s government, has largely ignored Western pressure to respect Ukrainian sovereignty, signing a decree officially making Crimea part of the Russian Federation.

In a March 19th address to the Commission of the Bishops Conferences of the European Community (COMECE), Cardinal Reinhard Marx said: “The politicians in Ukraine face a daunting task: they must try to hold their country together, while not allowing themselves to be drawn into a military conflict with Russia.»

“The politicians in the European Union and on the world stage are working feverishly for a solution to the conflict, and we should accompany all concerned with our prayers,» said the cardinal, who is one of Pope Francis’ advisers in the eight-member Council of Cardinals. «But, above all, this also applies to the people of Ukraine – who, in addition to the political upheaval in their country and enormous economic and financial problems, now also find themselves confronted with an external threat.”

The German prelate, who is president of COMECE, said that developments in the Ukraine should give cause to reflect upon COMECE’s commitment to Europe. Regarding the upcoming elections of the European Parliament, Cardinal Marx lamented the usually weak participation of voters in EU member states.

“This raises the question whether we have not become too tired and lazy to care about the political affairs of Europe – our own political interests!” he said. “The democratic movement in Ukraine clearly demonstrates to us – once again – that the achievements of our free and democratic Europe cannot be taken for granted, but require the continued support of its citizens and peoples.”

The Cardinal also stressed the need to explore not only Europe’s role in the world, but also the role that the Church can play. Among the areas that were to be discussed at the Assembly was the Free Trade Agreement with the US.

Concluding his address, Cardinal Marx emphasized the need to focus on those issues to help those in most need.

“As the Church, we must keep in mind that complex projects such as these always entail connected even justice issues – both for us in Europe and as well as for other countries, especially for the poor!” he said. (J.A.E.)


On ZENIT’s webpage: Cardinal Marx’s full speech

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