Pope: 'Lord, forgive us the war'
At the general audience, Francis quotes a prayer written in recent days by the archbishop of Naples on the war in Ukraine and asked the young people to pray for their peers forced to flee from the bombs. In his catechesis on old age, he recalled the style of Noah who denounced corruption "without recriminations, but safeguarding future generations".
Vatican City (AsiaNews) - With his thoughts turned to the war in Ukraine and all those who are suffering from this conflict, Pope Francis once again asked for prayers for peace today, one day after announcing his intention to consecrate Russia and Ukraine to the Immaculate Heart of Mary next March 25.
In an early morning meeting with the students of Milan's "La Zolla" School in St Peter's Basilica, the Pope asked the young people present to join him in a prayer for the many young people "who are at war and who are offering today in Ukraine". "They are like you and like us," he said, "but you have a future, a social security of living in peace, but these little ones must flee from the bombs".
And also at the end of the general audience held as every Wednesday in the Paul VI Hall, he returned to address a thought to those suffering from the war, through a prayer written by the archbishop of Naples, Msgr Mimmo Battaglia, and sent to all the faithful of the diocese in recent days.
"Lord, forgive us the war - recites this prayer read by Francis - Lord Jesus, born under the bombs of Kiev, have mercy on us! Lord Jesus, who died in his mother's arms in a bunker in Kharkiv, have mercy on us! Lord Jesus, sent twenty years old to the front, have mercy on us. Son of God, we implore you! Stop the hand of Cain! And when you have stopped the hand of Cain, care for him too. He is our brother".
Alongside his constant attention to the latest news, Pope Francis continued the cycle of Wednesday catecheses on old age, focusing today's reflection on "Old age, a resource for carefree youth" (Gen 6:5-8).
"The biblical account," he commented, "tells us something striking: God was so bitter about the widespread wickedness of men, which had become a normal way of life, that he thought he had made a mistake in creating them and decided to eliminate them," Pope Francis said.
"Does it not happen to us as times as well – overwhelmed by the sense of powerlessness against evil or demoralized by the “prophets of doom” – that we think it would be better if we had not been born? Should we give credit to some recent theories, which denounce the human race as an evolutionary detriment to life on our planet? All negative? No.t?" The Pontiff explained that we often feel under the pressure of different impulses: on the one hand, we have the optimism of an eternal youthfulness, ignited by the extraordinary progress of technology, on the other hand, "our imagination seems increasingly focused on the representation of a final catastrophe that will extinguish us". This is "what would happen with an eventual atomic war", he added in off-the-cuff remarks.
"It seems that the symbol of the flood is gaining ground in our unconscious," the Pope said. "Besides, the current pandemic puts a heavy weight on our carefree representation of the things that matter, for life and its destiny. In the bible story, when it comes to saving life on earth from corruption and from the flood, God entrusts the task to the fidelity of the eldest of all, the “righteous” Noah. Will old age save the world, I wonder? In what sense? And how will old age save the world? And what is the prospect? Life after death or just survival until the flood?".
Referring to those days even Jesus (Lk 17:26-27) in the Gospel highlights the fact that "human beings, when they limit themselves to enjoying life, lose even the perception of corruption, which mortifies their dignity and poisons their meaning," explained Pope Francis. And they also live carefree corruption, as if it were part of the normality of human wellbeing".
Light-heartedness is like "the gateway that opens the door to the corruption that sinks the life of all". And it is precisely in old age, according to Francis, that one can "grasp the deception of this normalisation of a life obsessed with enjoyment and empty of interiority". The meaning of old age - he added - is "to be a prophet of corruption for the new generations"; but the style of this prophecy, which must be generative, also counts: "Noah does not preach, he does not complain, he does not recriminate, but he takes care of the future of the generation that is in danger. He builds the ark of welcome and brings in men and animals. In caring for life, in all its forms, Noah fulfils God's command by repeating the tender and generous gesture of creation, which in fact is the very thought that inspires God's command: a new blessing, a new creation". "I make an appeal to all those of a certain age," he concluded, "you have a responsibility to denounce human corruption. The world needs strong young people and wise old men. Let us ask the Lord for the grace of wisdom.