Pope Francis made a direct appeal to Russian President Vladimir Putin for an immediate ceasefire on Sunday, imploring him to end the “spiral of violence and death” in Ukraine.
Speaking from the window of the Apostolic Palace on Oct. 2, the pope dedicated nearly all of his Angelus address to the war in Ukraine.
“I deeply deplore the grave situation that has arisen in recent days … It increases the risk of nuclear escalation, giving rise to fears of uncontrollable and catastrophic consequences worldwide,” Pope Francis said.
“My appeal is addressed first and foremost to the president of the Russian Federation, imploring him to stop this spiral of violence and death, also for the sake of his people,” he said.
The pope also appealed to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to be “open to serious proposals for peace” and to the international community to “do everything possible to bring an end to the war without allowing themselves to be drawn into dangerous escalations.”
He said: “After seven months of hostilities, 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 a mistake and a horror.”
The pope’s five-minute speech on the war in Ukraine from a window overlooking St. Peter’s Square was a departure from his typical Sunday routine. The pope usually gives a reflection on the Church’s Sunday Gospel reading before praying the Angelus, a traditional Marian prayer, and speaking about his prayer intentions.
Pope Francis underlined that he chose to devote his entire reflection to Ukraine because the course of the war has “has become so serious, devastating, and threatening that it has caused great concern.”
“I am saddened by the rivers of blood and tears spilled in these months,” he said.
“I am grieved by the thousands of victims, especially children, and the destruction that has left many people and families homeless and threatens vast territories with cold and hunger. Such actions can never be justified, never!”
The pope has frequently mentioned Ukraine in his prayers at the end of his public audiences since the war began in February. Recently in a conversation with Jesuit priests during his trip to Kazakhstan, the pope said that he had attempted to help a prisoner swap between Ukraine and Russia.
“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,” Pope Francis said in his appeal.
“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.”
At the end of his Angelus address dedicated to Ukraine, the pope said that he has also been praying for the people of Florida and Cuba hit by Hurricane Ian.
“May the Lord receive the victims, give consolation and hope to those who suffer, and sustain the solidarity efforts,” he said.
Francis added that he was praying for the victims of a stampede at the end of a soccer match in Indonesia, where at least 174 people died, according to the Associated Press.
Pope Francis also offered a reminder to the crowd gathered in St. Peter’s Square that a new light display on the life of St. Peter will be projected on the Vatican basilica each night for the first two weeks of October. Andrea Bocelli is slated to sing at the show’s inauguration on the night of Oct. 2.
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