Fr. Robert P. Maloney, CM, 23rd Superior General of the Congregation of the Mission from 1992 to 2004 and a firm supporter of the worldwide Vincentian Family, has written this letter in solidarity with all the Ukrainian people, who are suffering from devastation and unjust invasion, encouraging the Vincentian Family in the area to make every effort to alleviate the pain of those who are suffering.
To my brothers and sisters
members of the Vincentian family in the Ukraine
and to the many people in surrounding countries
who are assisting you
I write today to express my solidarity with you at this terribly painful time.
Years ago, when I served as Superior General, I visited you in the Ukraine on two occasions. I was deeply impressed by your courage and your missionary spirit. Today, I am all the more profoundly moved as I witness your unity in responding to the crying needs of your suffering people.
I am outraged at the invasion of the Ukraine ordered by Russia’s President Putin. History will judge it an abomination. Years from now, people will wonder how this folly could possibly have happened.
Your pain is very much my pain too, as St. Vincent stated (CCD:I:138). When the leaders of his time were waging a war that was devastating the lives of the poor, he went to the Prime Minister, at considerable risk to himself, and pleaded: “Let us have peace! Have pity on us! Give our country peace!” In a similar vein, I also recall today the eloquent words of Pope St. Paul VI, “No more war! War never again!”
In my dreams, I wish that I could speak those words directly to President Putin. I know, of course, that that is impossible. But be sure that those words are my sentiment and that my heart is with you. I am confident that the future will reverse these terrible events, but tragically, it is already clear that “justice will roll down like a river” (Amos 5:24) only after great suffering and loss of life has occurred.
I offer you my love in these days as you join the crucified Lord. You are now one of his “crucified peoples.”
I think today of the words William Blake, an 18th-century English poet and painter:
TO Mercy, Pity, Peace, and Love,
All pray in their distress,
And to these virtues of delight
Return their thankfulness.
For Mercy, Pity, Peace, and Love,
Is God our Father dear;
And Mercy, Pity, Peace, and Love,
Is Man, his child and care.
For Mercy has a human heart,
Pity, a human face;
And Love, the human form divine,
And Peace, the human dress.
Then every man, of every clime,
That prays in his distress,
Prays to the human form divine: Love,
Mercy, Pity, Peace.
My daily prayer and support accompany you as you undergo this excruciating trial.
Your brother in St. Vincent,
Robert P. Maloney C.M.