10/01/2023, 15.40
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Pope calls for a lasting agreement for the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh

During the Angelus, Francis appealed for action as tens of thousands of people flee the Armenian enclave in Azerbaijan. In October, the pontiff urges the faithful to pray the Rosary for peace and the evangelization of peoples. On 6 November, he will meet children from all over the world to learn from them, for the Kingdom of God belongs to them.


Vatican City (AsiaNews) – At the end of the Angelus prayer in front of the faithful in St Peter's Square, Pope Francis once again pointed out to the world the “tragic situation of the displaced people in Nagorno-Karabakh” following the flight of tens of thousands of local Armenians to Armenia over the past week after Azerbaijan ended the enclave’s self-government, a bitter bone of contention for more than thirty years.

The pontiff renewed his “appeal for dialogue between Azerbaijan and Armenia, and [expressed] hope that talks between the parties, with the support of the international community, might foster a lasting agreement to bring the humanitarian crisis to an end.”

Hopeful that a lasting solution might come out at a meeting on 5 October in Grenada, Spain, between the presidents of Azerbaijan and Armenia, the pontiff also offered his prayers for the victims of an explosion at a fuel depot, near the city of Stepanakert, which caused further death and destruction.

Francis mentioned that October is “the month of the Rosary and the missions”, urging “everyone to experience the beauty of praying the Rosary, contemplating the mysteries of Christ with Mary and invoking her intercession for the needs of the Church and of the world.

“Let us pray for peace in battered Ukraine and in all those lands wounded by war. Let us pray for the evangelization of peoples. And let us also pray for the Synod of Bishops during this month in which the first Assembly on the theme of synodality in the Church takes place.”

Since today is the feast day of Saint Thérèse of Lisieux, whose 150th anniversary is celebrated this year, Francis said that he will issue an apostolic exhortation on 15 October dedicated to her. May she “help us have confidence and work for the missions,” he added.

At the window overlooking St Peter's Square, five children stood next to the pope, representing each continent. With them at his side, the pontiff announced that on the afternoon of 6 November, in the Paul VI Hall in Rome, he will meet children from all over the world in an event sponsored by the Dicastery for Culture and Evangelization.

“It will be a meeting that will manifest the dream each of us has: to retrieve the pure sentiments of children for the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like children. Children teach us how to be transparent in relationships, how to spontaneously welcome those who are strangers, and how to respect all of creation. Dear children, I too look forward to learning from all of you!”

The pontiff today also released a message to children on the 180th anniversary of the founding of the Society of the Holy Childhood, one of the Pontifical Mission Societies.

“Dear missionary children and young people, I want to thank you, because with your efforts you help all of us to be courageous witnesses of the Gospel and to share with others, not only material assistance, but what is most precious to us: faith.”

Introducing the Angelus prayer, the pope spoke about the Gospel passage in which Jesus spoke of two sons, who were asked by their father to go to work in the vineyard. While the first said yes but did not go, the second obeyed after initially refusing (Mt 21:28-32). For the pontiff, these two figures show the difference between sin and corruption.

Ultimately, “there is always the hope of redemption for a sinner; for the corrupt, instead, it is much more difficult. In fact, the corrupt person’s false ‘yesses’, elegant but hypocritical façades and habitual false pretenses, are like a thick ‘rubber wall’, behind which to take cover from qualms of conscience. And these hypocrites do so much evil!

“Brothers and sisters, sinners yes – all of us are – corrupt no! Sinners yes, corrupt no!” [. . .] “May Mary, mirror of holiness, help us be sincere Christians.”

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