Pope petitions for Easter for peace in Ukraine, cites nuclear risk – NBC New York

In what is supposed to be Christianity’s happiest day, Pope Francis filed a tormented Easter Sunday petition for peace in the “irrational” war in Ukraine and other armed conflicts raging around the world, expressing concern about the risk of nuclear war.

“Let there be a desire for peace for the war-torn Ukraine, which has been severely tried by the violence and destruction of this cruel and irrational war to which it has been dragged,” Francis said, speaking from the central porch of St. Peter’s Square.

The pope has just finished celebrating Easter Mass in a square packed with believers for the first time since the plague began in early 2020. Applause has erupted from many in the crowd, according to Vatican number 100,000 in the square. The nearby boulevard, when he mentioned Ukraine.

“Please, please, let’s not get used to the war,” Francis pleaded, after denouncing “muscle flexion while people are suffering.” Again, the pope did not quote Russian President Vladimir Putin on the decision to launch the invasion and attacks against Ukraine on February 24.

People’s hearts are filled with “fear and anguish, for so many of our brothers and sisters have had to shut themselves off to be safe from the bombings,” the pope said.

“Let us all commit to pleading for peace, from our balconies and our streets,” Francis said. “May the leaders of the peoples hear the supplication of the people for peace.”

With a clear reference to the threat of nuclear warfare, Francis quoted from a well-known 1955 statement: “‘Will women put an end to the human race, or will humanity give up war?’

He quoted from a manifesto written by the philosopher Bertrand Russell and the physicist Albert Einstein. The text of the manifesto, which sounds bleak warning of the consequences of nuclear warfare, was published a few months after Einstein’s death.

Meanwhile, in Britain, the leader of the Anglican Church, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Woolby, called on Russia to declare a ceasefire and withdraw from Ukraine.

Noting that in the Eastern Orthodox Church, followed by many in Russia and Ukraine, Sunday marks the beginning of Holy Week – with Easter on April 24 – Wolby called on Russia to withdraw from Ukraine and commit to talks.

Francis also drew attention to other wars in a speech known by its Latin name “Urbi et Orbi” – to the city and to the world.

“That the conflict in Europe will also cause us to worry more than other situations of conflict, suffering and grief, situations that affect too many areas of our world, situations that we cannot ignore and do not want to forget,” Francis said.

Two days after an exercise between Palestinians and the Israeli police in Jerusalem, Francis prayed that “Israelis, Palestinians and all residents of the Holy City, along with pilgrims, will experience the beauty of peace, of life in brotherhood and of access to holy places” with mutual respect. .

He called for peace and reconciliation for the peoples of Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Libya.

Francis spoke in an accompanying voice about Yemen, “suffering from a conflict forgotten by all, with ongoing casualties.” He expressed hope that the recent truce would restore hope to the country’s citizens.

He also prayed that God would grant “reconciliation to Myanmar, where a dramatic scenario of hatred and violence continues,” and to Afghanistan, which has been gripped by a humanitarian crisis, including food shortages.

Francis condemned the exploitation of the African continent and the “terrorist attacks – especially in the Sahel region”, as well as the humanitarian crisis in Ethiopia and the violence in the Congo.

In Latin America, many have seen their situation worsen during the Corona plague, exacerbating social problems stemming from corruption, violence and drug trafficking, the pope said.

But Francis found hope in the “open doors of all those families and communities that welcome migrants and refugees across Europe,” referring to the 10 million people who fled Ukraine or were displaced because of the war.

At Medika’s Polish border station, a paramedic from Warsaw helped organize a traditional Easter breakfast with pork, cheese and Easter cakes for some of the last refugees from Ukraine, most of whom had flowed to neighboring Poland.

“They have lost their homes. They are seeking refuge in our country,” said volunteer Agnieszka Koshaz. She hoped the meal would help them “for a moment forget all the terrible things” that had happened.

Maria Dontsova, 31, from Kharbiv, the heavily bombed city in eastern Ukraine, said: “I wish all the families peace in Ukraine that is suffering this big holiday of Easter.” Speaking in English, she expressed hope that the war would end “as soon as possible, and people will stop suffering, and we will be able to prevent the war from spreading to Europe.”

Earlier, the pope, who has a problem with his knee ligaments, limped badly when he made his way to the altar erected in front of St. Peter’s Basilica. After the Easter morning Mass, Francis ascended the White Pope for a tour of the square between the cheering lines of the crowd.

In Spain, secular believers and amateurs flocked back in large numbers to Holy Week processions this week for the first time since the onset of the plague after most health restrictions were lifted.


Contributed by Jill Lawles in London, Joseph Wilson in Barcelona and Serdjan Nedlikovic in Medica, Poland.

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