Pope writes to the Ukrainian people nine months after the start of the war
In expressing his closeness, Francis writes: “There is no day when I [. . .] do not carry you in my heart [. . .], you who suffer the terror unleashed by this aggression.” For hi, the world “has come to see” Ukrainians as a “noble and martyred people”. Faced with the cold winter and the rockets landing on power stations that make the suffering even more tragic, Francis cites the trials of the Holy Family in Bethlehem, noting that “the light came, not from men, but from God”.
Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Pope Francis wrote a Letter to the people of Ukraine nine months after the start of Russia’s invasion, which the Vatican Press Office released this afternoon.
In it, the pontiff says: “There is no day when I am not close to you and do not carry you in my heart and in my prayers. Your pain is my pain. Today I see you in Jesus’s cross, you who suffer the terror unleashed by this aggression.”
Francis goes on to say, “For nine months, the absurd madness of war has been unleashed on your land. In your skies, the sinister roar of explosions and the ominous sound of sirens rumble ceaselessly.”
Relentlessly, “Your cities are hammered by bombs as showers of missiles cause death, destruction and pain, hunger, thirst, and cold. Many have had to flee your streets, leaving homes and loved ones behind. Alongside your great rivers, rivers of blood and tears flow every day.
“The cross that tortured the Lord lives again in the tortures found on bodies, in the mass graves uncovered in various cities, and in those and so many other gory images that have entered our souls, that make us cry out: Why? How can men treat other men this way?”
Francis speaks about the many tragic stories involving the suffering of the Ukrainian people that he has heard in recent months. “I weep with you for every child who has lost his or her life because of this war, children like Kira in Odessa, or Lisa in Vinnytsia, and hundreds of other children; in each humanity as a whole is defeated. Now they are with God, they see your sorrows and pray for an end to them. The pain of Ukrainian mothers is immeasurable.”
The pope also turns his thoughts “to you young people who, in order to defend your homeland with courage, had to take up arms instead of nurturing the dreams you had for the future; to you, wives, who have lost husbands, biting your lips go forward in silence, with dignity and determination, to make every sacrifice for your children; to you, adults, who try every way to protect your loved ones; to you, seniors, who instead of spending a peaceful sunset have been thrown into the dark night of war; to you, women who have suffered violence and carry great burdens in your hearts; to all of you, wounded in soul and body. My thoughts are for you and I am close to you with affection and admiration for how you face such hard trials.”
The pontiff also talks about the volunteers who help others, the “pastors of the holy people of God who remained close to the people”, the refugees and internally displaced persons and the authorities “whose duty is to govern the country in tragic times and to make far-sighted decisions for peace and develop the economy during the destruction of so many vital infrastructures.”
Citing the 90 years since the terrible trial of the Holodomor, the famine that Stalin unleashed on the Ukrainian people in the 1930s, Francis writes that the world has in recent months “come to see a bold and strong people, a people who suffers and prays, weeps and struggles, resists and hopes: a noble and martyred people. I continue to be close to you, with my heart and prayers, with humanitarian concern, that you may feel accompanied, that you may not get used to war, that you are not left alone today and especially tomorrow, when perhaps the temptation will come to forget your suffering.”
Noting “the rigidity of the weather that makes what you are experiencing even more tragic", the pontiff calls on everyone to go back to Bethlehem in mind and heart, “to the trial that the Holy Family had to face that night, which seemed only cold and dark. Yet, the light came, not from men, but from God, not from Earth, but from Heaven.”
The pope ended by entrusting the Ukrainian people to Our Lady. “To her motherly heart I present your sufferings and your tears. To her who, as a great son[*] of your land wrote, "brought God into our world", let us never tire of asking for the longed-for gift of peace, in the certainty that ‘nothing will be impossible for God’ (Lk 1:37). May he fulfil the just expectations of your hearts, heal your wounds, and give you his consolation.”
[*] Taras Shevchenko.