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Msgr. Kutleša Celebrates a Mass for Peace in Ukraine: “What we see on the social plan is a reflection of inner poverty”

Zagreb (IKA)

At the initiative of the Council of the Bishops’ Conferences of Europe (CCEE) for a Mass to be celebrated in each diocese every day during Lent for the victims of the war in Ukraine and peace in that country, on Thursday, March 2, a Mass was celebrated at the headquarters of the Croatian Conference of Bishops in Zagreb, led by the Archbishop Coadjutor of Zagreb, Msgr. Dražen Kutleša.

The concelebrants were the Archbishop of Đakovo-Osijek, Msgr. Đuro Hranić; the Bishop of Gospić-Senj, Msgr. Zdenko Križić; the Director of the National Catechetical Office of the Croatian Conference of Bishops, Msgr. Ivica Pažin; the National Director of Pastoral Ministry to Croats Abroad, the Very Rev. Tomislav Markić; and the episcopal secretaries Rev. Mišel Grgurić and Rev. Domagoj Lacković. The Mass was broadcast live on Croatian Catholic Radio and attended by personnel from the offices and institutions of the Croatian Conference of Bishops.

In the sermon, Archbishop Kutleša spoke about the conflict in Ukraine: “Our hearts are especially heavy and close [to it] for two reasons, a rational one because it is very near to us geographically, in Europe, on the threshold of our home, but also an emotional one, because we ourselves, especially those who are a bit older, have the personal experience of the Homeland War.”

In the light of these events, as well as in the light of the Word of God and the Lenten season, said the archbishop, it is justifiable to pose three questions: What is the current state of humanity? Have we learned anything from the past? Are we building the future and how?

Noting, on the one hand, “the progress of globalization and ascent of society,” Archbishop Kutleša remarked how increasing coldness and globalized indifference were prevalent in society. “Indifference at the international level, which is not guided by the concept of the general good or a feeling for community life, is always a consequence of the coldness, indifference and egoism of individuals. What we see on the social plan is a perfect reflection of the inner poverty of the individual. As states protect their national interests with wars and sanctions, individuals feverishly protect their personal interests with fraud, hypocrisy and slander. Wickedness, hypocrisy, hatred and revenge do not exist in society by themselves; they only exist in the human heart. ‘It is from within, from the heart of man, that evil thoughts come …,’ wars and every other wickedness” (cf. Mk 7,23) said Archbishop Kutleša, adding  that humanity needs a conversion of heart in order to change and discard its false criteria and interpretations of the world and reality.  Our society needs a reversal and healing that only God can provide.”

In this respect, Msgr. Kutleša said that Catholics, as the “yeast of society,” must raise awareness that “the human community is our most precious treasure.”

Calling the war in Ukraine “a defeat for humanity,” the archbishop coadjutor of Zagreb said that this is most evident in “our inability to learn from the errors of the past, so that we are condemned to repeat the past stereotypically. Let us recall the time when St. Pope John XXIII issued the encyclical Peace on Earth, Pacem in Terris. The world was dominated by the Cold War and the division between capitalism and socialism, with a great chasm between the East and the West, which almost ended in a nuclear war during the Cuban missile crisis. It was then that the Holy Father addressed ‘all people of good will,’ believers and nonbelievers, warning the Church to view the world as a whole, beyond borders and divisions, because war is in no one’s interest and peace is the fruit of righteousness. How powerful and current the Pope’s messages are! We can justifiably ask ourselves whether we have learned anything.”

The archbishop coadjutor observed that the present situation invites us to build the future with God. “Prayer is the inclusion of God in the problem.” Referring to the Gospel, the archbishop coadjutor said: “God guarantees to us that no prayer is in vain.”

“We pray from our hearts for God to have mercy upon us, the warring sides and all humanity. If we pray from our hearts, our hearts prompt us to act. Solidarity and concrete material assistance are signs of “praying from the heart,” not just the mind and lips, because a heart changed by faith and prayer is always concrete in love,” concluded Archbishop Kutleša in his sermon at the Mass for the victims of the war in Ukraine and peace in that country.

The Council of the Bishops’ Conferences of Europe (CCEE) has launched an initiative for a Mass to be celebrated every day during Lent in each diocese for the victims of the war in Ukraine and peace in that country. Every bishops’ conference has been assigned a day.