Loading...
Loading...
Click here if you don’t see subscription options
Gerard O’ConnellOctober 02, 2022
Pope Francis leads the Angelus from the window of his studio overlooking St. Peter's Square at the Vatican Oct. 2, 2022. (CNS photo/Vatican Media)

In an extraordinary move, reflecting his profound concern at the danger of an escalation of the seven-month-old war in Ukraine and the potential use of nuclear arms, Pope Francis called today for “an immediate ceasefire” to that war.

He called on the president of the Russian Federation “to stop this spiral of violence and death, also for the sake of his own people.” It was the first time that he has publicly appealed to the Russian president, even though observing protocol he did not call Vladimir Putin by name but rather by his official role as head of state.

He also called on the Ukrainian president “to be open to serious proposals for peace.” He did not call Volodymyr Zelenzky by name either.

Reflecting his profound concern at the danger of an escalation of the war in Ukraine and the potential use of nuclear arms, Pope Francis called today for “an immediate ceasefire” to that war.

His appeal is significant as diplomatic sources and international observers all agree that neither president is ready at this moment to make peace. Mr. Putin wants to consolidate his territorial gains—already more than 15 percent of Ukraine—while Mr. Zelensky has regained the initiative and recaptured much territory in a significant counter-offensive with the aid of arms from the United States and European countries in NATO.

Aware that the two countries will not make peace without pressure from other states, Pope Francis today appealed “to all the protagonists of international life and the political leaders of nations to do everything possible to bring an end to the war, without allowing themselves to be drawn into dangerous escalations, and to promote and support initiatives for dialogue.”

He also denounced last Friday’s annexation by Russia of four parts of Ukraine as a contravention of international law, making clear the Vatican does not recognize this illegal act. “I deplore the grave situation that has arisen in recent days, with further actions contrary to the principles of international law,” the pope said. “It increases the risk of nuclear escalation, giving rise to fears of uncontrollable and catastrophic consequences worldwide.”

Pope Francis called on the president of the Russian Federation “to stop this spiral of violence and death, also for the sake of his own people.”

Francis devoted his entire address at the midday Sunday Angelus to the war in Ukraine. Normally, he gives a reflection on the Gospel reading of the day before commenting on situations around the world, but today he broke with this tradition because the war in Ukraine has escalated to a new and extremely dangerous level with the annexation of Ukrainian lands by Mr. Putin last Friday.

Francis began by saying, “The course of the war in Ukraine has become so serious, devastating and threatening, as to cause great concern.” He said, “This terrible and inconceivable wound to humanity, instead of healing, continues to shed even more blood, risking to spread further.

“I am deeply saddened by the rivers of blood and tears spilled in these months. I am saddened by the thousands of victims, especially children, and the destruction which has left many people and families homeless and threatens vast territories with cold and hunger,” he said.

“Certain actions can never be justified,” Francis said, alluding to the atrocities committed by the Russian forces during the past seven months. He said, “It is disturbing that the world is learning the geography of Ukraine through names such as Bucha, Irpin, Mariupol, Izium, Zaporizhzhya and other areas, which have become places of indescribable suffering and fear.”

“Certain actions can never be justified,” Francis said, alluding to the atrocities committed by the Russian forces during the past seven months.

Then, turning to the real threat of nuclear war, hinted at by President Putin and other Russian leaders in recent days, Pope Francis said, “And what about the fact that humanity is once again faced with the atomic threat? It is absurd.”

He asked: “What is to happen next? How much blood must still flow for us to realize that war is never a solution, only destruction? In the name of God and in the name of the sense of humanity that dwells in every heart, I renew my call for an immediate ceasefire.”

He appealed, “Let there be a halt to arms, and let us seek the conditions for negotiations that will lead to solutions that are not imposed by force, but consensual, just and stable. And they will be so if they are based on respect for the sacrosanct value of human life, as well as the sovereignty and territorial integrity of each country, and the rights of minorities and legitimate concerns.”

Denouncing the annexation of Ukrainian lands decreed by Mr. Putin last Friday, the pope said, “I deeply deplore the grave situation that has arisen in recent days, with further actions contrary to the principles of international law. It increases the risk of nuclear escalation, giving rise to fears of uncontrollable and catastrophic consequences worldwide.”

“I address an equally confident appeal to the president of Ukraine to be open to serious proposals for peace.”

Speaking on the 221st day of the invasion of Ukraine by Russian forces, Pope Francis, turning to Mr. Zelensky, said: “Profoundly saddened at the immense suffering of the Ukrainian people as a result of the aggression they have suffered, I address an equally confident appeal to the president of Ukraine to be open to serious proposals for peace.” Francis has spoken publicly almost 100 times on this war and has spoken by phone with Mr. Zelensky.

Pope Francis’ final appeal was to world leaders at national and international level. “I urge all the protagonists of international life and the political leaders of nations to do everything possible to bring an end to the war, without allowing themselves to be drawn into dangerous escalations, and to promote and support initiatives for dialogue,” he said.

He urged them, “Please let the younger generations breathe the salutary air of peace, not the polluted air of war, which is madness!

“After seven months of hostilities,” he said, “let us use all diplomatic means, even those that may not have been used so far, to bring an end to this terrible tragedy. War in itself is an error and a horror!”

Pope Francis concluded his appeal by inviting pilgrims in St. Peter’s Square and believers worldwide to pray for peace and an end to this war. He said, “Let us trust in the mercy of God, who can change hearts, and in the maternal intercession of the Queen of Peace, as we raise our Supplication to Our Lady of the Rosary of Pompei, spiritually united with the faithful gathered at her shrine and in so many parts of the world.”

The latest from america

A Reflection for the Second Sunday of Advent, by James T. Keane
James T. KeaneDecember 02, 2022
A Reflection for the Memorial of St. Francis Xavier, by J.D. Long-García
J.D. Long-GarcíaDecember 02, 2022
The graces of the sacraments of Anointing of the Sick, Ordination, Baptism, Matrimony and Eucharist compounded as they were being lived out.
Michael StrandeDecember 02, 2022
A group of young adults draw on windows with markers
This imaginary scene depicts the dreams of many Catholics: a church that welcomes LGBTQ people, allows women to be ordained and gives young Catholics a platform for their ideas.
Religion News ServiceDecember 02, 2022