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The bishop asks for prayers for peaceful elections and an end to the Ukraine conflict.

DUMAGUETE CITY β€” On Wednesday, Bishop Julito Cortes of the Diocese of Dumaguete urged the faithful to begin their Lent journey with prayers and fasting for peaceful elections in the Philippines and an end to the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

Cortes said that since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began, he has asked the faithful to pray for an end to the aggression, in accordance to Pope Francis’ appeal for Ash Wednesday to be dedicated to this specific goal.

“I’ve been urging the faithful in my several parishes in Siquijor to pray for the success of the peace talks between Russia and Ukraine, as well as the end of the war,” Cortes said.

He is currently in the neighbouring province of Siquijor for his usual pastoral visits to the diocese’s many parishes.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine, which began on February 24, should not be “let to develop and lead to a possible world war, God forbid,” according to the pope.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the relatives of those who have died, as well as the more than half a million Ukrainians who have already fled their homes.” “May God continue to bless and assist them,” Cortes added.

Meanwhile, the 65-year-old cardinal reminded the faithful in his Ash Wednesday address that Lent is a season for repentance and recollection of Christ’s passion, death, and Resurrection, calling it “the most appropriate moment to pray, fast, and undertake acts of charity.”

He mentioned the “tragic effects” of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic and the devastation caused by Typhoon Odette, as well as the “threatening developments” that the country is facing, such as “unnecessary reclamations and potentially destructive quarrying,” and the upcoming elections, all of which require prayers.

“As the May 2022 elections approach, we are increasingly concerned about alleged election-related homicides and the threat of significant vote-buying.” “We pray, then, for much-needed conversion in everyone of us – both individually and collectively,” he stated.

The prelate exhorted people to “be informed and emboldened” in electing those who “work for the common good, not for the greedy interests of a few, and who have always been on the side of the poor,” not just during election season but all year.

He also suggested fasting not only on food but also on entertainment, because any savings might be contributed as a charitable deed to aid the victims of Typhoon Odette’s recovery.

“Let us not grow tired of doing good in active generosity towards our neighbors,” Cortes stated from Pope Francis’ Lenten address. Lent is a good time to seek out and not avoid those who are in need, to reach out and not ignore those who need a sympathetic ear and a kind word, and to visit and not abandon those who are lonely.”

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