Interfaith Prayer Service for the Ukraine

Religions for Peace AsiaThe Asian Conference of Religions for Peace (Religions for Peace Asia) conducted an Interfaith Prayer Service online on Thursday, 31 March 2022. Religious leaders from many nations in South East Asia participated. Here, the Moderator of the Asian Conference of Religions for Peace gives the opening statement and Opening Prayer:


MODERATOR (Professor Desmond Cahill)

As Moderator of the Asian Conference of Religions for Peace, I want to begin by thanking all of you online for participating in this interfaith service to pray for the Ukraine and the cessation of hostilities in this nasty, destructive war. The Religions for Peace family across Asia, the Pacific and beyond join together in prayer. I want to thank the secretariat in Tokyo under the wisdom and guidance of our Secretary-General, Dr. Yoshi Shinohara, for arranging this prayer service. The Religions for Peace Asia family across our 22 member countries encompasses 52 per cent of humanity as we contain four of the five countries with the largest populations (China, India, Indonesia and Pakistan).

Religions for Peace Asia emerged out of the ruinous World War Two, especially the ashes of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Today again we are living in the shadow of World War Two as the Ukraine was the site of battles between the Nazi forces and the Soviet Russian troops defending their own territory. Today we must pray to our God, begging mercy for those who have commenced this war which is destroying a sovereign nation called the Ukraine and its 44 million people. Our Chinese friends have often reminded us of the importance of the principle of national sovereignty. It is not an Asian or Pacific war but it will impact on all our countries, especially in damaging our economies and supply lines. No country benefits from war. This war is an unlawful, deplorable invasion.

The strength of a country is not measured by its ability to fight wars but by its ability to prevent them and prosper in stability, growth and predictability. The real and lasting victories must be those of peace, not of war. Humanity must put an end to war in this nuclear age as Hiroshima and Nagasaki have shown. If wars can be started by lies, they must be stopped by truth. It is very sad to admit that this war has a strong religious component with the supportive involvement of Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Rus’ in its justification. Let us pray for the Russian Orthodox Church in Russia and for those brave priests and lay people who have begun speaking the truth to religious and political power.

As our television screens keep showing us, war has a direct impact upon women and children as they hide underground or flee to other countries. These women have lost their sense of place as they head they know not where, and the safety of home is unravelling. The children are no longer at school and learning things they do not have to learn.

Let us pray:

O compassionate God, the God of life and love,

Forgive us as we stand on the precipice of death and destruction,
Forgive us for the stupidity of war, its killings, its injuries and its destruction.
And teach us again and again,
Teach us that all war is a defeat, a defeat of all that is divine in the human spirit.

Forgive us, as we gaze upon the cities of blood,
Forgive us for not following the message of the founders of our diverse faiths.
And teach us again and again,
Teach us their messages of love, justice and reconciliation, their messages of peace and compassion.

O compassionate God, the God of life and love,

Heal us, as we look at our television screens,
Heal the hearts and minds of those still affected by the wounds of war.
And teach us again and again,
Teach us that our enemy is also our neighbour, our brother and sister in common humanity.

Heal us, as we are watched by the satellites circling above,
Heal the minds and hearts of our political and military leaders.
And teach them again and again,
Teach them to have the courage to take the path of risk and determination in achieving peace and reconciliation

O compassionate God, the God of life and love,

Let not humanity be crucified on the cross of war,
Let not women and children again become collateral damage in the engagement of war,
Let not our leaders, political, military and religious, be blind to the folly of war and the banality of evil.

This we pray to the transcendent God in peace,
In the rising of the sun and in the going down of the sun,
O God of Light and Love, LEST WE FORGET, Amen.


Professor Desmond Cahill, OAM.

Prof. Desmond Cahill, OAM, Chair of Religions for Peace Australia, Moderator, Asian Conference on Religions for Peace has been an active participant in interfaith activities and has been the Chair of Religions for Peace for 11 years. He is also Professor at the School of Global Studies, RMIT University, Melbourne.

Educated in Australia and Italy, Des Cahill, Professor of Intercultural Studies at RMIT University, has been a world leading researcher and teacher in the areas of immigrant, cross-cultural and international studies for more than three decades.

Prof. Des Cahill

Since the events of September 11th 2001, he has played a major role in researching and bringing together the various faith communities in Australia and across the world through his research and community activities. He currently chairs the Australian chapter of Religions for Peace International, the world’s largest interfaith organization, and represents Australia on the executive committee of the Religions for Peace Asia – in October 2008, he was elected its Deputy Moderator by the Governing Board representing the 18 member nations including Bangladesh, China, India, Indonesia, Japan and the two Koreas. He is a member of the Australian Partnership of Religious Organisations (APRO) and of the Victoria Police Multifaith Advisory Council.

In 2006, he led Melbourne’s successful bid, in competition against Delhi and Singapore, to host the Parliament of the World’s Religions during 3rd – 9th December 2009, the world’s largest interfaith gathering. As a consequence, he has been made an Ambassador for Club Melbourne, a group of 100 leading scientists and academics, to promote the image of Melbourne around the world.

In the 2010 Queen’s Birthday Honours List, he was awarded the Order of the Medal of Australia for “services to Intercultural Education and to the Interfaith Movement”. Professor Cahill is Chair, Religions for Peace Australia.

In 2021, Emeritus Professor Desmond Cahill was elected Moderator of the Asian Conference of Religions for Peace.