On the first anniversary of the war in Ukraine, 24 February, Pope Francis attended a screening at the Vatican of the documentary “Freedom on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom”, sponsored by filmmaker Evgeny Afineevsky. Also present were some 250 guests, including representatives of voluntary associations, and members of the Ukrainian community in Rome, groups of refugees and people in need accompanied by Cardinal Konrad Krajewski, Almoner of His Holiness. The Pope also met with those featured in the production, including the mother of a soldier barricaded in the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol and the owner of the city’s steel mill. The following is a translation of the Holy Father’s impromptu words at the end of the film screening.
When God made man, he said to take the earth, make it grow, make it beautiful. The spirit of war is the opposite: to destroy, to destroy, not to let grow, to destroy everyone, men, women, children, the elderly, everyone.
Today marks one year of this war. Let us look at Ukraine, let us pray for Ukraine and open our hearts to sorrow. Let us not be ashamed to suffer and weep, for a war is destruction, a war always diminishes us. May God make us understand this.
“Let us pray” ... he said in English, visibly moved by the documentary, characterized by its stark images and realism, revealing the horrors of war.
Holy Father, who art in heaven, look at our miseries, look at our wounds, look at our pain, look also at our selfishness, our low interests and the capacity we have to destroy ourselves. Heal, heal our hearts, heal our minds, heal our eyes that they may see the beauty that You have made and not destroy it in selfishness. Sow in us the seed of peace. Amen.