03/03/2022, 15.03
ASIA – UKRAINE
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Catholics in Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei speak out against war, which ‘only brings destruction’

by Steve Suwannarat

Bishop Francis, who chairs the Bishops’ Conference of the three countries and 11 dioceses, issued an appeal, urging “all interested parties to put a stop to the madness of violence and war and come to the table of peace and justice.” At the UN General Assembly, Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei voted in favour of a resolution condemning Russia’s invasion.

Kuala Lumpur (AsiaNews) – Bishop Sebastian Francis of Penang (Malaysia), president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Malaysia-Singapore-Brunei, released a letter on Ash Wednesday, following the appeal for peace and reconciliation in Ukraine made by Pope Francis who urged the faithful to use the days of Lent to fast and pray for peace in the besieged European country and the world.

The letter, which calls for unity of purpose among local Catholics and Asian Churches and leaders, notes that “the Catholic church in this region is deeply concerned over the war in Ukraine and its impact on global peace and justice, affecting the lives of peoples everywhere.”

Although “The history and causes of war may be complex, [. . .] wars in the long term do not benefit anyone, including us. On the contrary, it only brings destruction and leaves a trail of immense suffering and displacements.”

The bishops go on to stress that mutual respect, recognition of differences between the parties and the integrity of countries “are crucial to lasting peace and justice for mutual co-existence.”

Hence, the Bishops' Conference, which includes 11 dioceses in three countries serving about 12 million members, calls “upon Russia, Ukraine and all interested parties to put a stop to the madness of violence and war and come to the table of peace and justice.”

This position largely reflects the attitude of the countries to which the bishops belong; at the UN General Assembly, Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei voted to condemn Russia’s aggression against Ukraine.

Meanwhile, Malaysia and especially Singapore are trying to repatriate their citizens from the war zone. On their own or through the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), each country is also trying to promote mediation to avoid further suffering among the civilian population and stop the escalation of the conflict.

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