Nearly 1,000 U.S. faith leaders are calling for a Christmas cease-fire in Ukraine 10 months after Russia invaded its neighbor. The leaders, who represent a broad range of faiths, said they hoped a temporary truce could lead to the negotiation of permanent peace.
“As people of faith and conscience, believing in the sanctity of all life on this planet, we call for a Christmas Truce in Ukraine,” the statement says. “In the spirit of the truce that occurred in 1914 during the First World War, we urge our government to take a leadership role in bringing the war in Ukraine to an end through supporting calls for a ceasefire and negotiated settlement, before the conflict results in a nuclear war that could devastate the world’s ecosystems and annihilate all of God’s creation.”
The signers are advocating for a cease-fire from Dec. 24 through Jan. 19, the 12th day of Christmas in the Orthodox calendar.
The statement was sent to the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships on Tuesday morning (Dec. 20). The signers aim to meet with representative of that office to urge the Biden administration to spearhead both the temporary cease-fire and long-term peace talks.
More than 6,000 civilians have died in Ukraine since the war began, and Ukrainians are bracing for a harsh winter as damaged infrastructure and displacement make heat a rarity.
The demand is inspired by the Christmas truce that occurred during World War I. Though national leaders at the time ignored Pope Benedict XV’s plea for an official cease-fire, on Dec. 24, 1914, German and British troops along the Western Front took part in an informal, erratic truce, emerging from their trenches to sing carols and share cigars, food and beverages for a few short hours.
Learn more about the call for a cease fire here.