HE Cardinal Vincent Nichols has joined Bishop Kenneth Nowakowski of the Ukrainian Eparchy of the Holy Family, Anglican Bishop of London Sarah Mullally, Archbishop Angaelos of the Coptic Orthodox Church, and a number of leaders of other Christian denominations in an hour of ecumenical prayer in a demonstration of solidarity and support for the people of Ukraine.
The service, On Monday of Holy Week, 11th April 2022, reflected a breadth of different Christian traditions and ways of prayer, beginning with the chanting of the Sixth Hour Office of the Ukrainian Church by the Cathedral Clergy led by Bishop Kenneth.
He said it was for him a ‘very moving experience’ to be united in prayer with other Christian leaders, adding: ‘We cannot underestimate the power of prayer as our Lord Jesus Christ told us that “Where ever two or three are gathered in my name, I am there with you.”‘
Each of the church leaders led prayers. In his turn, Cardinal Vincent prayed that, through the intercession of Our Lady, God’s mercy may be ‘poured out on the earth and the gentle rhythm of peace return to mark our days’. At the conclusion of the service, the church leaders together prayed the Prayer for Ukraine of the Ukrainian Catholic Church.
Cardinal Vincent explained that prayer itself is important, as is the location of the Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral which is trying to become a focus for arriving refugees, and the presence of so many Christian leaders praying together, saying: ‘We are very united in this determination to support the people of Ukraine as they face this terrible evil onslaught.’
‘Prayer,’ he said ‘adds dimensions to these struggles. It gives an inner strength and it opens up a wider horizon. It tells us that the immediate moment and how we respond to it, is not the whole story. It’s a very important part of the story, but prayer generates hope, prayer generates courage and prayer generates solidarity. And those three things, hope, courage and solidarity, are needed in every practical effort as well.’
Speaking to Sky News just ahead of the service, the Cardinal also called for the complicated process of receiving refugees from Ukraine to be simplified: ‘I think the heart of most people in this country is to say let them come, just let them come. We are ready to receive and welcome and do our best. Of course there has to be prudent caution but that should not be obstructive and this is a time I think, when this system really ought to be reviewed and put into working order.’