The Holy Father recalls the anniversary of the beginning of the war in Ukraine

A diplomatic solution for a just and lasting peace

 A diplomatic solution  for a just and lasting peace   ING-009
01 March 2024

After praying the Angelus with the faithful gathered in Saint Peter’s Square on Sunday, 25 February, Pope Francis turned his thoughts to the war in Ukraine. Two years into the conflict, the Pope decried the amount of deaths and injuries it has caused. “It is a war that is not only devastating that region of Europe”, he said, “but which is unleashing a global wave of fear and hatred”. Earlier, the Pope had reflected on Jesus’ Transfiguration from the Gospel of Mark. The following is a translation of the Holy Father’s words.

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

The Gospel of this second Sunday of Lent presents us with the episode of the Transfiguration of Jesus (cf. Mk 9:2-10).

After announcing his Passion to the disciples, Jesus takes Peter, James, and John with him and goes up a high mountain, and he physically manifests himself there in all his light. In this way, he reveals to them the meaning of what they had experienced together up to that moment. The preaching of the Kingdom, the forgiveness of sins, the healings and the performed signs were, indeed, sparks of a greater light, namely, of the light of Jesus, of the light that is Jesus. And the disciples must never take their eyes off this light, especially in moments of trial, like those of the Passion which was near at this point.

This is today’s message: never take your eyes off the light of Jesus. It is a little like what farmers used to do in the past while plowing their fields: they focused their gaze on a specific point ahead of them and, keeping their eyes fixed on that point, they traced straight furrows. This is what we are called to do as Christians while we journey through life: to always keep Jesus’ luminous face before our eyes, never to take our eyes off Jesus.

Brothers and sisters, let us open ourselves to Jesus’ light! He is love, he is life without end. Along the roads of existence, which can be tortuous at times, let us seek his face, that is full of mercy, fidelity and hope. Prayer, listening to the Word, and the Sacraments, help us to do this. Prayer, listening to the Word, and the Sacraments help us to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus. And this is a good Lenten resolution: cultivating a welcoming gaze, becoming “seekers of light”, seekers of the light of Jesus, in prayer and in people.

So let us ask ourselves: on my journey, do I keep my eyes fixed on Christ who accompanies me? And in order to do so, do I make room for silence, prayer, adoration? Lastly, do I seek out every little ray of Jesus’ light, which is reflected in me and in every brother and sister I encounter? And do I remember to thank the Lord for this?

May Mary, who shines with the light of God, help us to keep our gaze fixed on Jesus and to look at each other with trust and love.

After praying the Angelus the Holy Father continued:

Dear brothers and sisters, it is with sorrow that yesterday, 24 February, we marked the second anniversary of the beginning of the large-scale war in Ukraine. How many victims and injured people, how much destruction, anguish and tears in a period that is becoming terribly long and the end of which cannot be seen yet! It is a war that is not only devastating that region of Europe but which is unleashing a global wave of fear and hatred. While I renew my heartfelt affection for the tormented Ukrainian people and pray for everyone, especially the countless innocent victims, I plead that that bit of humanity needed to create the conditions for a diplomatic solution aimed at a just and lasting peace be recovered. And, brothers and sisters, let us not forget to pray for Palestine, for Israel, and for the many peoples torn apart by war, and to concretely help those who suffer! Let us think of the huge amount of suffering, let us think of the wounded, innocent children.

It is with concern that I am following the increase in violence in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. I join the bishops’ call to pray for peace, hoping that the clashes may cease and that a sincere and constructive dialogue may be sought.

The increasingly frequent kidnappings in Nigeria are concerning. I express my closeness in prayer to the Nigerian people, hoping that efforts will be made to contain the spread of these incidents as much as possible.

I am also close to the people of Mongolia, who have been affected by a wave of extreme cold, which is causing serious humanitarian consequences. This extreme phenomenon, too, is a sign of climate change and its effects. The climate crisis is a global social problem that deeply affects the lives of many brothers and sisters, especially the most vulnerable: let us pray to be able to make wise and courageous choices to contribute to the care of creation.

I greet you, faithful of Rome and from various parts of the world, especially the pilgrims from Jaén (Spain), the young Greek-Catholic Romanians from Paris, the Neocatechumenal Communities from Poland, Romania and Italy.

I greet the Interregional Pontifical Seminary of Posillipo, from Campania; the Secretariat of the International Forum of Catholic Action; the Scouts from Paliano; and the [newly] confirmed from Lastra Signa, Torre Maina and Gorzano.

I also greet the Italian Federation of Rare Diseases, the Cultural Circle “Reggio Ricama”, members of the Nonviolent Movement, and volunteers of the n.o.e.t.a.a. Association. And I greet the young people of the Immacolata.

I wish you all a happy Sunday. Please, do not forget to pray for me. Enjoy your lunch. Arrivederci.