Dear Pope Francis,
The war in Ukraine is bringing hell on earth, as all wars do - the deaths of so many people, the maiming and killing of children, the terror and fear, the destruction of homes and livelihoods, the millions of refugees fleeing for safety, the damage to soldiers as they engage in war's killing and destruction. The recent trip to Kiev by the three European prime ministers was tremendously moving to me and to the world - their courage, resolve, their solidarity. To publicly announce their planned trip and make it by train as bombs fell in Ukraine was inspiring and must have have given some pause both to the Russian leadership and the soldiers on the field.
I realize that you and other religious leaders are in an unusual position to act as peacemakers in ways that no other folks can. Your public presence in Ukraine, standing with the people against war could bring an abrupt halt to the slaughter and convince parties to negotiate an end to the war. Though there are many wars being waged in our world today, this one is particularly dangerous as it has the potential to escalate into a nuclear war that would threaten humanity’s very existence. In light of the terrible slaughter and the potential apocalyptic outcome, I urge you to go with a contingent of your cardinals, bishops and priests to Ukraine, to make a public pilgrimage to vigil, fast and pray for peace, to stay until peace is re-established. Please invite Patriarch Kirill, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, to join you with some of his clergy, and invite leaders of other religions to join you as well. You could travel by rail bringing humanitarian assistance to areas currently cut off from such critical supplies and bring the light of Love and Peace to these besieged areas, visiting the Russian soldiers as well.
I believe that such a contingent would be safe from attack, though the endeavor would not be without risk, and would bring great hope to our world that there is a way beyond war. Our only way forward is peace and compassion; war, fear, rage and ever escalating violence will never bring any people security or hope. I beg you to consider making this pilgrimage now, even if it's just you and some of your clergy who would go initially. Please don't wait. Shouldn't we do whatever we can do?
Blessed are the peacemakers,
Brian Dyer Stewart
Harrington, Maine USA