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Russia’s invasion of Ukraine demonstrates the world’s ‘toleration for conflict and death as a result of war’ — Hosffman Ospino

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Men carry crucifixes and banners during the funeral for soldier Vasyl Vekliuk in Stebnyk, Ukraine, March 30, 2022. He was killed during shelling by Russian troops. (CNS photo/Viacheslav Ratynskyi, Reuters)

It is with sadness and puzzlement that our world witnesses the invasion of Ukraine, a sovereign nation, by its neighbor Russia, an exponentially more powerful country politically, economically and militarily.

Of concern for everyone are the global consequences that this situation may unleash. Many fear the destabilization of Europe and potentially other parts of the world; others the encouragement of other large nations to invade smaller neighbors. Most chilling are the prospects of a world war using nuclear weapons.

Only in a few weeks, the brutal use of power of Russia against Ukraine has led to increased militarization or the promise to move in that direction everywhere. Countries are announcing increases in military spending. The production and distribution of weapons, legally and illegally, will likely see a spike.

This seems like prime time for leaders who, instead of seeking the common good of the people they are called to serve, act as lords of war. I use the male term “lords” because practically all abusing their power to extol pain and death are men. Can we call them leaders? What idea of leadership inhabits their minds and hearts?

The Ukraine-Russia clash is not the only armed conflict that risks the disruption of regional and global peace. Several other nations are currently engaged in civil wars, fights against terrorist groups and confrontations with organized crime such as drug cartels.

The death toll in those conflicts is breathtaking. One human being killed as a result of war is too many. Our world seems to have developed some toleration for conflict and death as a result of war. People are being displaced, families separated and futures shattered. Remember that often in the midst of war women, children and the elder carry the brunt.

I want to cry out, “stop.” For everyone’s sake, for our children, for our families, for the future of our world, “please stop.” If there were only an easy way to bring this madness to a halt. I feel like a voice in the desert. Not alone, however. My voice joins other voices, but who is listening? I hear Pope Francis and many other leaders call for peace. Who is listening?

Can anyone do something about this? As I speak with my young children about war and its consequences, they ask me if there is someone like Wonder Woman, in reference to the 2017 film about the beloved superhero, who could just go into the battlefield, topple tanks, dodge bullets and stop wars. Can anyone like her take on the lords of war of our time? In the film, Wonder Woman stops and brings the mythical Ares, the Greek god of war living disguised among humans promoting conflict, to his demise.

I smile and wish it were that easy. Yet, it occurs to me that we have Mary, the mother of Jesus, woman of wonders. In times of war and struggle, Catholics for centuries have turned to her in prayer. It is not accidental that one of her most popular titles is Queen of Peace.

On Friday, March 25, 2022, I attended a Mass with hundreds of people, joining Pope Francis and millions of Catholics throughout the world, to consecrate humanity, particularly Ukraine and Russia, to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

It is through actions like this, I think, that the Virgin Mary is already working wonders. I see Mary taking on the lords of war of our day, bringing us together, in the name of Jesus, to ponder about the dignity of every human life. That is the greatest miracle that can bring entire wars to an end.

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Ospino is professor of theology and religious education at Boston College.