Skip to Initiative on Catholic Social Thought and Public Life Full Site Menu Skip to main content
March 31, 2022

War in Ukraine

Human Agony, Global Crisis, Moral Principles

War in Ukraine Video Player

Showing the War in Ukraine Video

The war in Ukraine has brought horrific violence, millions of refugees, and unprecedented threats to global peace. The constant images of death and destruction, families fleeing for their lives, and the courage of leaders and ordinary Ukrainians move us to tears and call us to action. This war also raises serious policy questions and moral choices regarding the obligations, directions, and dangers for the United States and other nations.

The Initiative brought together key leaders and powerful voices with extraordinary experience and commitment to Ukraine. This dialogue welcomed the bishop who leads Ukrainian Catholics in the United States, a Cardinal from the Vatican’s justice and peace efforts, a leader working every day to help refugees, an ethicist on war and peace, and a reporter from the Vatican to help us understand this appalling crisis, its escalating human costs, and its ongoing moral choices.

They explored questions such as:

  • What is the situation in Ukraine? What is at stake? What is the road ahead?
  • What is happening to pastors and people in the religious communities of Ukraine? To refugees fleeing the violence? To countries and communities receiving refugees?
  • What are the responsibilities and obligations of other nations? What are dangers and limitations?
  • How can each of us, the United States, and the world demonstrate solidarity with the Ukrainian people and support the defense of their land and freedoms?
  • How should the principles of Catholic social teaching shape these choices? Specifically, how do Catholic moral principles on war and peace, on the use of force, and on peacemaking offer direction and caution in responding to the war in Ukraine?
  • What is the message of Pope Francis, the role of the Vatican, and the mission of religious communities in this terrible time?
  • What are the goals and what could be the impacts of Pope Francis’ words and actions?
  • What are the ecclesial, ecumenical, interfaith, and geopolitical dimensions and implications of Pope Francis’ efforts?

John Carr, co-director of the Initiative and former director of justice and peace efforts of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, moderated the conversation.

Resources

View a list of articles, books, and other resources for this dialogue.

Participants

Cardinal Michael Czerny, S.J.

Cardinal Michael Czerny, S.J.

Cardinal Michael Czerny, S.J., was appointed interim prefect of the Vatican Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development on January 1, 2022 by Pope Francis. He has visited Ukraine and neighboring countries bearing the brunt of the crisis to convey Pope Francis’ personal concern and solidarity.

Archbishop Borys Gudziak

Archbishop Borys Gudziak

Archbishop Borys Gudziak is the metropolitan archbishop of Philadelphia for Ukrainian Catholics in the United States, the head of the Department of External Church Relations for the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, and the president of the Ukrainian Catholic University in Lviv.

Laurie Johnston

Laurie Johnston

Laurie Johnston is an associate professor of theology and religious studies at Emmanuel College and the executive vice president of the Sant’Egidio Foundation for Peace and Dialogue. Her teaching and scholarship focus on Christian social ethics, particularly questions of war and peacemaking.

Gerard O’Connell

Gerard O’Connell

Gerard O’Connell is the Vatican correspondent for America and author of The Election of Pope Francis: An Inside Story of the Conclave That Changed History (2019). He has been covering the Vatican since 1985 and has reported extensively on Pope Francis’ response to the invasion of Ukraine.

Tetiana Stawnychy

Tetiana Stawnychy

Tetiana Stawnychy is the president of Caritas Ukraine and the former director of the subcommittee on Aid to the Church in Central and Eastern Europe at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.