"I have great pain in my heart about the worsening situation in Ukraine. Despite the diplomatic efforts of recent weeks, increasingly alarming scenarios are opening up." Thus began the Pope a Appeal at the end of yesterday's General Audience in the Paul VI Hall.
"Like me, many people around the world feel anguish and concern," the Pontiff added, noting that "once again the peace of all is threatened by the interests of the parties."
The Holy Father then made a pressing appeal to political leaders: "I would like to appeal to political leaders to make a serious examination of conscience before God, who is the God of peace and not of war; who is the Father of all, not just of some, who wants us to be brothers and sisters and not enemies. I ask all parties involved to refrain from any action that causes even more suffering to populations, destabilizing coexistence among nations and discrediting international law".
"God's weapons, prayer and fasting."
The Holy Father extended the appeal to all, "believers and non-believers", inviting them to unite in a day of joint prayer for peace: "Jesus taught us that the diabolical senselessness of violence can be answered with the weapons of God, with prayer and fasting. I invite everyone to make March 2, Ash Wednesday, a day of fasting for peace. I especially encourage believers to dedicate themselves intensely to prayer and fasting on that day. May the Queen of Peace preserve the world from the madness of war.
"Ukraine suffers and deserves peace"
This is not the first time that the Pope has made an appeal for peace in the conflict affecting that country. At the end of January, Francis appealed to the filiation to God the Father and to fraternity among men, in relation to Ukraine: "Let us pray for peace with the Our Father: it is the prayer of children who address the same Father, it is the prayer that makes us brothers, it is the prayer of brothers who implore reconciliation and concord".
The Papa asked "the Lord with insistence that this land may see fraternity flourish and overcome the wounds, fears and divisions". The Day of Fasting and Prayer for Peace had three key points: the Vatican, the Basilica of Santa Maria in Trastevere in Rome, and the Ukrainian capital, Kiev. Ukraine "is a suffering people, they have suffered much cruelty and they deserve peace," the Holy Father cried out.
"Gathered together in prayer we implore peace for Ukraine," Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, Secretary for Relations with States of the Holy See, asked at the. Basilica of Santa Maria in Trastevere in Rome, in a celebration promoted by the Community of Sant'Egidio. "May the winds of war be silent, may the wounds be healed, may men, women and children be preserved from the horror of conflict."
"We are in communion with the Pope so that every initiative may be at the service of human fraternity," added Monsignor Gallagher. His words highlighted, first of all, the drama of conflicts and the disparity between those who decide them and those who suffer them, between those who systematically carry them out and those who suffer the pain, the official Vatican agency reported.
"We know how dramatic war is and how serious its consequences are: they are painful situations that deprive many people of the most fundamental rights," he added. But even more scandalous "is to see that those who suffer most from conflicts are not those who decide whether or not to start them, but are above all those who are only helpless victims of them," Archbishop Gallagher stressed.
Subsequently, Sviatoslav Shevchuk, Major Archbishop of the Greek Catholic Church of Ukraine, said that "the Catholics of Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, are united in prayer, and seek peace". He made this statement at an online press conference organized by Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) on the Ukrainian crisis.
According to various sources, the Russian President, Vladimir Putin, assured last night that, "in accordance with Article 51 of the UN Charter, with the approval of the Federation Council" (Russian Upper House), he has decided to "carry out a special military intervention", which has set off all the alarms.For his part, the President of the United States, Joe Biden, has assured, according to the BBC, that Ukraine is suffering "an unprovoked and unjustified attack by Russian military forces", following Vladimir Putin's announcement of a "special military operation" against the neighboring country.