06/05/2022, 17.03
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Pope urges government leaders not to bring ruin to humanity

At Pentecost Francis calls for concrete steps to be taken for a ceasefire and sustainable peace.

Vatican City (AsiaNews) – At the end of the Regina Caeli prayer in St Peter's Square, on the day of Pentecost, Pope Francis lamented that, “one hundred days after the beginning of the armed aggression against Ukraine, the nightmare of war, which is the negation of God’s dream, has once again befallen humanity”.

This is 50 days after Easter, on the feast day in which peoples who speak different languages are supposed to “encounter and understand one another” so that “God’s dream for humanity becomes reality”; today, instead, we see “peoples in conflict with one another, peoples who kill each other, people being driven from their homes instead of being brought closer”.

“[W]hile the fury of destruction and death rampages and the conflicts rage on, fuelling an escalation that is increasingly dangerous for all, I renew my appeal to the leaders of Nations: do not lead humanity into ruin, please! Do not lead humanity into ruin, please! Let true negotiations take place, real talks for a ceasefire and for a sustainable solution.”

Turning to the victims of the conflict, the pontiff said: “Let the desperate cry of the suffering people be heard – we see this every day in the media – have respect for human life and stop the macabre destruction of cities and villages in the east of Ukraine. Let us continue, please, to pray and to strive tirelessly for peace.”

The Holy Father also expressed his closeness to the fishermen who, “due to the increase in the cost of petrol, risk having to stop working” as well as all the workers in other domains seriously affected by the conflict in Ukraine.

Yesterday, during a meeting in the Vatican with 160 girls and boys taking part in the “Children’s Train”, promoted by the “Cortile dei Gentili” (Courtyard of the kind people), Francis reiterated his wish to go to Kiev. “I am waiting for the right moment,” he said answering a child's question.

At the end of the Regina Caeli, Francis also mentioned yesterday’s beatification in Lebanon of two Capuchin Friars Minor, Leonard Melki and Thomas Saleh, two martyred priests, killed in hatred of the faith in Turkey in 1915 and 1917 respectively. “These two Lebanese missionaries, in a hostile context, proved their unshakeable faith in God and self-sacrifice for their neighbour. May their example strengthen our Christian witness,” Francis said.

The pontiff also talked about the latest developments in the war in Yemen. “I have learned with satisfaction that the truce in Yemen has been renewed for another two months. Thanks to God, and to you. I hope that this sign of hope may be a further step to put an end to that bloody conflict, which has caused one of the worst humanitarian crises of our times.” His thoughts went to the children of Yemen, who are suffering from hunger, lack of education, “lack of everything.”

The pontiff also extended his “prayers for the victims of the landslides caused by torrential rains in the metropolitan region of Recife, Brazil.”

Before the Regina Caeli, the pope led the Mass for the feast of Pentecost, which was celebrated by Card Giovanni Battista Re, in the parvis of St Peter's Square. In his homily, Francis focused on what the Gospel says about Pentecost. “The Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all I have said to you (Jn 14:26). [. . .] The Spirit makes us see everything in a new way, with the eyes of Jesus. [. . .] in the great journey of life, the Spirit teaches us where to begin, what paths to take, and how to walk.”

“We tend to think that love comes from our keeping, our fidelity and our devotion. Yet the Spirit reminds us that without love as our basis, all the rest is in vain. And that love comes not so much from our abilities, but as his gift.”

The Holy Spirit is an active memory, which ignites and rekindles God’s affection in human hearts and is experienced through forgiveness from sins. In addition to reminding us of failures and inadequacies, the Holy Spirit reminds us that we are children of God, always loved. “Because he, the Consoler, is the Spirit of healing, of resurrection, who can transform the hurts burning within you,” as he did with the apostles, the pontiff said.

The pope explained that the Spirit teaches us which way to go. As Saint Paul writes, how many are “’led by the Spirit of God’ (Rom 8:14) ‘walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit’ (v. 4). [. . .] It is important, then, to be able to distinguish his voice from the voice of the spirit of evil. Both speak to us,” the pontiff said.

While the Holy Spirit corrects and spurs us to change, even if this requires effort, causes an inner struggle and demands sacrifices, the evil spirit pushes us to act according to our own interest, and then blames us and casts us down. However, when we “feel troubled by bitterness, pessimism and negativity [. . .] then it is good to remember that these things never come from the Holy Spirit”; they come “from evil, which is at home with negativity. It often uses this strategy: it stokes impatience and self-pity.”

Francis went on to explained that “The Holy Spirit is practical, he is not an idealist. He wants us to concentrate on the here and now, because the time and place in which we find ourselves are themselves grace-filled. [. . .] The Holy Spirit wants us to be together; he makes us Church and today – here is the third and final aspect – he teaches the Church how to walk”. The disciples, in fact, were holed up in the Upper Room, until the Spirit descended and brought them out.

“In every age, the Spirit overturns our preconceived notions and opens us to his newness. God, the Spirit, is always new! He constantly teaches the Church the vital importance of going forth, impelled to proclaim the Gospel. The importance of our being, not a secure sheepfold”

For Francis, “the Church cannot be ‘programmed’ and every effort at ‘modernization’ is not enough.” In fact, the Spirit “beckons us to walk his paths, ever ancient and ever new, the paths of witness, poverty and mission, and in this way, he sets us free from ourselves and sends us forth into the world.” The Church, Francis suggests, is “an open pasture where all can graze on God’s beauty” as well as “an open house without walls of division.”

During the Angelus the pope spoke of the Holy Spirit as well, as an aid that can help face the difficulties of the present.

The “Holy Spirit is a specialist in bridging distances” and “teaches us how to overcome them [. . .] who connects the teaching of Jesus with every time and every person. With him Christ’s words [. . .] come alive today!”

The spirit can get us to remember, bringing the Gospel back into our hearts, protecting us from the temptation of “making faith a museum piece”. [. . .] Woe to us, should we become forgetful Christians! The remedy is to invoke the Holy Spirit.”

Last but not least, the Holy Father called on the faithful in St Peter’s Square to recite a simple invocation: “Holy Spirit, remind me of Jesus, enlighten my heart.” Urging them to repeat it often, especially at important moments, Francis also said to open a passage of the Gospel, which the Spirit will make speak to our lives.

“May the Virgin Mary, filled with of the Holy Spirit, kindle in us the desire to pray to him and receive the Word of God.”

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