03/20/2022, 13.30
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Pope denounces 'inhuman and sacrilegious aggression' in Ukraine

New heartfelt appeal at the Angelus to stop "chaos and atrocities" committed by bombings for which "there is no justification". The account of the wounds of the children, victims of this war, whom he met yesterday at the Bambino Gesù Children's Hospital. Renewed invitation to dioceses and faithful around the world to join him on Friday 25 in the Act of Consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

 

Vatican City (AsiaNews) - The violence striking the most fragile people in Ukraine "is an inhuman, indeed sacrilegious." Again today, at the end of the Angelus prayer recited from his window overlooking the faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square, Pope Francis uncategorically the conflict that has been raging for almost a month now.

He called it a "violent aggression against Ukraine, a senseless massacre where slaughter and atrocities are repeated every day" for which "there is no justification." "I plead with all the actors in the international community," he added, "to make a real commitment to put an end to this repugnant war."

The Pope specifically mentioned the missiles and bombs that during this week "have fallen on civilians, the elderly, children and pregnant mothers." He referred to the wounded Ukrainian children, whom he met yesterday afternoon during a visit to the Bambino Gesù Children's Hospital in Rome, where they have are being treated:

"One is missing an arm, the other has a head injury... Innocent children. I think of the millions of Ukrainian refugees who have to flee leaving everything behind and I feel a great pain for those who don't even have the possibility to escape. So many grandparents, sick and poor, separated from their families, so many children and fragile people are left to die under the bombs, without being able to receive help and without finding safety even in air raid shelters. All of this is inhuman. Indeed, it is also sacrilegious, because it goes against the sacredness of human life, especially against defenseless human life, which must be respected and protected, not eliminated, and which comes before any strategy."

Francis then praised the closeness of the local bishops and the apostolic nuncio who "in these tragic times are living the Gospel of charity and fraternity. I have spoken to some of them on the phone, how close they are to the people of God. Thank you, dear brothers, dear sisters, for this witness and for the concrete support that you are courageously offering to so many desperate people."

"Let us be close to this people, let us embrace them with affection and with concrete commitment and with prayer. And, please, we must not allow ourselves to grow accustomed to war and violence. May we never tire of generously welcoming: not only as we are now, in the emergency, but also in the weeks and months to come. May we think of these women, these children who in time, without work, separated from their husbands, will be sought out by the 'vultures' of society. May we protect them, please."

Finally, the Pontiff renewed the invitation "to every community and every believer" to join on Friday, March 25, the Solemnity of the Annunciation, in the "Act of consecration of humanity, especially Russia and Ukraine, to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, so that She, the Queen of Peace, may obtain peace for the world."

Already in his reflection on the Gospel passage proposed by today's liturgy, Pope Francis had invited us to read with the eyes of faith what is happening. Commenting on some news events of the time - the collapse of a tower and some Galileans whom Pilate had had killed (Lk 13:1) - Jesus addresses the question of God's punishments to men. "Is it He who sends a war or a pandemic to punish us for our sins? And why does the Lord not intervene?"   

"How many times - he explained - we attribute to Him our misfortunes and the misfortunes of the world, to Him who, instead, always leaves us free and therefore never intervenes by imposing, only by proposing; to Him who never uses violence and, indeed, suffers for us and with us." Jesus rejects and strongly challenges the idea of blaming God for our evils: "Evil can never come from God because He does not treat us according to our sins, but according to His mercy. Instead of blaming God," says Jesus, "we must look inside ourselves: it is sin that produces death; it is our selfishness that tears apart relationships; it is our wrong and violent choices that unleash evil.

The road he indicates is therefore that of conversion, "an urgent invitation, especially in this time of Lent. Let us open ourselves to the logic of the Gospel: because, where love and fraternity reign, evil no longer has power". However, Jesus also knows that "conversion is not easy, that many times we fall back into the same errors and sins; that we become discouraged and, perhaps, it seems to us that our commitment to good is useless in a world where evil seems to reign".

This is why He encourages us with the parable of the fig tree that does not bear fruit in the established period, but is not cut down: it is given more time, another chance. "This is what the Lord does with us," Francis concluded, "He does not cut us off from His love, He does not lose heart, He never tires of returning our trust with tenderness. 

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