Pope: in the name of God, stop this massacre

At the Angelus Francis renewed his plea for an end to the ruinous war in Ukraine. “Faced with the barbarism of the killing of children, and of innocent and defenceless citizens, there are no strategic reasons that hold up,” he said. Calling on all dioceses in the world to devote more time to praying for peace, he turned his thoughts to refugees and Mariupol, the city that bears Mary’s name.

Vatican City (AsiaNews) – At the end of the Angelus prayer, on ninth anniversary of his election, Pope Francis made another impassionate plea for peace for Ukraine.

“In the name of God,” the pontiff said, “listen to the cry of those who suffer, and put an end to the bombings and the attacks! Let there be real and decisive focus on the negotiations, and let the humanitarian corridors be effective and safe. In the name of God, I ask you: stop this massacre!”

Before the many faithful gathered in St Peter’s Square, he said: “we have just prayed to the Virgin Mary. This weekend, the city that bears her name, Mariupol, has become a city martyred by the ruinous war that is devastating Ukraine.

“Faced with the barbarism of the killing of children, and of innocent and defenceless citizens, there are no strategic reasons that hold up: the only thing to be done is to cease the unacceptable armed aggression before the city is reduced to a cemetery. With an aching heart I add my voice to that of the common people, who implore the end of the war.”

“I would like once again to urge the welcoming of the many refugees, in whom Christ is present, and to give thanks for the great network of solidarity that has formed. I ask all diocesan and religious communities to increase their moments of prayer for peace. God is only the God of peace, he is not the God of war, and those who support violence profane his name. Now let us pray in silence for those who suffer, and that God may convert hearts to a steadfast will for peace.”

Before the Angelus, Francis commented the passage on the Transfiguration of Jesus (cf. Lk 9:28-36) from today's liturgy, focusing on the sleep of Peter, James and John who realised what was happening only upon awakening. This sleep seems a “discordant note” at such an important moment, but reading the text carefully one sees that they fell asleep before.

“We may think that at the beginning they too were praying, until tiredness prevailed.” This is similar to what we, in the evening at home or in prayer, might experience. “We would like to be more awake, attentive, participatory, not to miss precious opportunities, but we can’t, or we manage it somehow but poorly.”

“We might think that it was the light of Jesus that reawakened them. Like them, we too are in need of God’s light, that makes us see things in a different way: it attracts us, it reawakens us, it reignites our desire and strength to pray, to look within ourselves, and to dedicate time to others.”

“In this Lenten time, after the labours of each day, it will do us good not to switch off the light in the room without placing ourselves in the light of God. To pray a little before sleeping. Let’s give the Lord the chance to surprise us and to reawaken our hearts.

“We can do this, for instance, by opening the Gospel and letting ourselves marvel at the Word of God, because the Scripture enlightens our steps and enflames the heart. Or we can look at the crucified Jesus and wonder at the boundless love of God, who never tires of us and has the power to transfigure our days, to give them a new meaning, a new, unexpected light.”