The USS Truxtun, which recently passed through the Bosphorus Strait on her way to the Black Sea, March 7, 2014.

The USS Truxtun, which recently passed through the Bosphorus Strait on her way to the Black Sea, March 7, 2014.

There is the the possibility of civil war in Ukraine, the danger of the use of nuclear weapons, and the inadequacy of our present global political leadership.

The word “nuclear” has been mentioned several times by prominent leaders in recent days.

One example, from March 12:

 KIEV, Ukraine — Ukraine may have to arm itself with nuclear weapons if the United States and other world powers refuse to enforce a security pact that obligates them to reverse the Moscow-backed takeover of Crimea, a member of the Ukraine parliament told USA TODAY.

The United States, Great Britain and Russia agreed in a pact “to assure Ukraine’s territorial integrity” in return for Ukraine giving up a nuclear arsenal it inherited from the Soviet Union after declaring independence in 1991, said Pavlo Rizanenko, a member of the Ukrainian parliament.

At the same time, the rhetoric about the danger of a shooting “civil war” in Ukraine is also ratcheting up. An example, from a March 11 Bloomberg report:

Germany told Russia it must switch course in Crimea by next week or risk more sanctions as Ukraine’s deposed president warned of a possible civil war.

The European Union will discuss harsher penalties on March 17 barring “obvious changes in Russia’s actions,” German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said today in Estonia. A planned March 16 referendum in Crimea on whether to join Russia should be halted, he said. Toppled President Viktor Yanukovych told reporters in Russia that lawlessness is spreading in Ukraine, fomented by the “fascists and ultranationalists” who are in charge in Kiev.

The very fact that the “nuclear option” is being mentioned is profoundly worrisome. (The logic is that, if conventional weapons are inadequate to forestall conventional troop invasions, nuclear weapons may be essential to have, and perhaps even to use.)

Down this path, of conventional (civil) war, and then, and above all, of nuclear war, lies tragedy.

Consider: Ukraine has already suffered from the melt-down at Chernovyl, not far from Kiev. But Ukraine has 15 other nuclear power plants, from which it gets half of its electricity. These plants must have regular, uninterrupted access to cooling. A bomb (even a conventional one) on any one of these plants would release masses of poisonous radioactive material. And perhaps the distinctive characteristic of the beautiful country of Ukraine is that it has millions of acres of literally the best soil in the world for farming, its black earth, a European and global treasure — but this soil that would be untillable for countless generations should nuclear fallout contaminate it.

By the very fact that people have begun to mention the word “nuclear,” we know that this is a dangerous situation, for Ukraine and for all of us.

But this raise another question: have our leaders, in many countries, disqualified themelves as suitable leaders?


Do we not need new leadership?

When all traditional politial insitutions reveal themselves to be corrupt, or short-sighted, or partial, or inadequate for the defense of our common future against all the dangers of this present time, and among these dangers, the nuclear contamination of our planet, whether in Ukraine, or in Europe, or in Russia, or in the US, should we not turn to humbler, holier men, men of faith, to try to meet together and come to some compromise solution to make peace?

Those mentioning procuring nuclear weapons, and suggesting they could be used, seem to think that poisoning the air and wter and soil of Europe, and of the planet, is an option.

It is not an option, and the sane institutions of the world, and the reasonable people of the world, need to find some way to make this clear.

In unison with our Orthodox brethren in the East, including in Russia, and with all men and women of good will, we must find a way to ensure that the planet will be here, and be livable, for our children. All of our children.

Our recent Popes and many of our holiest men and women, including remarkble peacemakers like Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the present Vatican Secretary of State, who toiled to draft treaties to limit nuclear armaments, have all worked to lessen the threat of nuclear war.

And today, in regard to Ukraine?

In September, Pope Francis helped to ward off the launching of missiles on Syria with his “day of prayer and fasting.”

Tomorrow is the anniverary of his election as Pope. He has been Pope for 365 days. Tomorrow, on the first anniversary of his election, he will be on retreat in the little town of Ariccia, just outside of Rome. So we will not hear from him.

But we know that the situation in Ukraine is on the Pope’s mind and heart.

Just before the beginning of Lent last week — the Pope’s annual Lenten retreat is taking place this week — Francis, in his Sunday Angelus on March 2, launched a “pressing appeal” for Ukraine, for “all initiatives in favor of dialogue and harmony.”

“This week we begin Lent, which is the journey of the People of God towards Easter, a journey of conversion, to combat evil with the weapons of prayer, fasting and mercy,” the Pope said.

The Pope said his hope for Ukraine was that “all parts of the country will endeavor to overcome misunderstandings and build together the future of the nation, a peaceful solution.” He added: “I address a pressing appeal to the international community to support all initiatives to promote dialogue and harmony.”

The moment is propitious for men like Pope Francis, and other religious leaders, in Ukraine and especially in Russia, to step out from the shadows of the political leaders, and call a halt to this unfolding insanity, which can only be pleasing to the Father of Lies, and the sower of hatred and fear, the devil.

It is time for a religious summit, when the secular leaders have all seemingly gone mad.

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