Church bells across the UK rang in solidarity with Ukraine on Sunday. The bells of St Paul’s and of Durham cathedral tolled at 4pm, as church bells were rung in Lviv in western Ukraine.
Bishop Kenneth Nowakowski, the Ukrainian Catholic eparch in Britain, expressed his gratitude for “this sign of solidarity with our brothers and sisters”. “This will mean so much to the mayor of Lviv, Andriy Sadovyi, where the bells will also be ringing, giving people hope in this crisis,” he said.
The Dean of St Paul’s, the Very Rev'd David Ison, said that he hoped the people of Ukraine would “find comfort in this act of solidarity”.
The bishops of England and Wales will join in Friday’s consecration of Russia and Ukraine to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. The Bishop of Plymouth, Mark O’Toole said: “I have been touched by the Holy Father’s initiative and look forward to uniting with him, my brother bishops, and Catholics in England and Wales in this act of consecration.”
The consecration will be made at 4pm at the Ukrainian Cathedral of the Holy Family in London, and in churches across the country. Archbishop of Westminster Cardinal Vincent Nichols will also make the act of consecration after celebrating Mass at 5:30pm at Westminster Cathedral.
Church leaders and charities continued to respond to the conflict. The Caritas Social Action Network issued guidance for the Catholic community’s support for refugees via the government’s “Homes for Ukraine” scheme, which opened on 18 March.
The scheme, which matches refugees to individuals and charities offering accommodation, follows appeals by Cardinal Vincent Nichols and other religious leaders to ease visa requirements.
A Bristol-based charity founded to support Christians under Communist rule in eastern Europe was among several to announce support for the region. The Transform Europe Network made emergency grants of £60,000 to its partner churches.
James Vaughton, its chief executive, said that Balkan countries were struggling to cope with the numbers of refugees, and warned of “a growing fear that if Odesa and Western Ukraine fall, then Transnistria and Moldova itself may be next”.
In Ireland, the Catholic and Anglican archbishops of Armagh issued a statement for St Patrick’s Day calling for peace. Archbishop Eamon Martin joined his Anglican counterpart John McDowell in the appeal for Christians to “unite in daily spiritual and practical efforts in support of a ceasefire”.
Archbishop McDowell told The Tablet that this was an attempt to “encourage the Russian Orthodox Church to acknowledge that it is time to call a halt”.