We have all been horrified by the unfolding events in Ukraine, and the enormous humanitarian crisis which has followed. I know that many of you are praying for peace in Ukraine. Nonetheless, it is important that we pray together as a Catholic community. At a recent meeting the Bishops of England and Wales, desiring to express spiritual solidarity with the people of Ukraine and with all peace-loving Russians, propose in their Dioceses the public recitation of the Rosary in our churches and homes for peace. I hope that our parishes and other groups of the faithful will take up this initiative as a public act of witness.

In union with the Holy Father, I will dedicate Russia and Ukraine to the Immaculate Heart of Mary at the 12.05pm Mass in St Mary’s Cathedral on the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord on 25 March. All clergy and faithful are most welcome to attend. Prayer resources are available on the diocesan website.

Information about how we can support the Ukrainian people and especially those refugees fleeing the conflict will soon be available on the Caritas Vicariate page of the diocesan website.

I am grateful to the parishes which have already responded so generously with goods and donations to this crisis. I have spoken recently to Bishop Kenneth Nowakowski, the Ukrainian Catholic Eparch in London who, together with CAFOD and other aid agencies, is organising help and support for refugees both here and abroad. In order to have the greatest effect, the support being given must be properly co-ordinated. In the next few days, you will be hearing from Caritas about the help that is needed and what we can do. I have asked for a list of properties in the Diocese that could be used to house refugees. I do hope that you and your parishioners will respond as generously as possible to those in need.

Yours sincerely in Christ

Rt Rev Robert Byrne, CO
Bishop of Hexham and Newcastle