Pope Francis appeals for end to ‘tragic’ Ukraine conflict

Pope Francis appeals for end to ‘tragic’ Ukraine conflict

Pope Francis delivers his Angelus address at the Vatican, Feb. 27, 2022. VATICAN MEDIA

By Catholic News Agency

February 27, 2022

VATICAN— Pope Francis appealed on Sunday for an end to the Ukraine conflict.

In his first direct public comments since the Russian president Vladimir Putin ordered a full-scale invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24, the pope called for humanitarian corridors to be opened to allow Ukrainians to flee the intense fighting.

“In these days we have been shocked by something tragic: war. Many times we have prayed that this road would not be taken. And we do not stop praying, indeed, we beg God more intensely,” he said after reciting the Angelus on Feb. 27.

Referring to his appeal to people around the world to pray and fast for peace, he said: “That is why I renew the invitation to everyone to make March 2, Ash Wednesday, a day of prayer and fasting for peace in Ukraine. A day to be close to the suffering of the Ukrainian people, to feel that we are all brothers and sisters and to implore God to end the war.”

He continued: “Those who wage war, who provoke war, forget humanity. They do not start from the people. They do not look at the concrete life of people, but they put partisan interests and power before everything. They rely on the diabolical and perverse logic of weapons, which is the farthest from God’s will. And they distance themselves from ordinary people, who want peace; and who in every conflict are the true victims, who pay for the follies of war on their own skin.”

In his live-streamed address, he pope said that he was thinking “of the elderly, of those who are seeking refuge in these hours, of mothers fleeing with their children… These are brothers and sisters for whom it is urgent to open humanitarian corridors and who must be welcomed.”

As pilgrims in St. Peter’s Square held up large Ukrainian flags, the 85-year-old pope said that his heart was “torn” by the scenes in Ukraine and urged people not to forget ongoing conflicts in other countries, such as Yemen, Syria, and Ethiopia.

“I repeat: put down your weapons! God is with the peacemakers, not with those who use violence. Because those who love peace, as the Italian Constitution states, ‘repudiate war as an instrument of offence against the liberty of other peoples and as a means for settling international disputes.'”

Pope Francis had been due to visit Florence on Sunday but was forced to postpone the trip due to knee pain.

Since the launch of the full-scale invasion Ukraine, the pope has engaged in behind-the-scenes efforts to help end the conflict.

On Feb. 25, he visited the Russian Embassy to the Holy See. The Catholic author George Weigel told Catholic World Report that the pope spoke with Putin via a secure telephone line during the visit. The Holy See press office said that the pope went to the embassy “to show his concern for the war,” but did not mention a phone call to the Russian president.

On the same day, Pope Francis called Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk, the leader of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, who is based in the Ukrainian capital Kyiv. The pope promised to do everything he can to help end the war.

On Feb. 26, Pope Francis expressed his sorrow at the situation in Ukraine in a phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

At the end of his Angelus address, the pope referred to the many Ukrainian flags in the square below and said: “Slava Isusu Christu” (Glory to Jesus Christ), a traditional Ukrainian Catholic greeting.


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