02/08/2023, 12.06
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Pope: I am close to the earthquake victims in Turkey and Syria, already tried by war

The Pope calls for solidarity with those suffering from the devastating calamity during his general audience. In his address to the faithful, the pontiff retraced the stages of his peace journey to the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan, with a new warning about the "shame of those who say they give aid and sell arms". "God places his hope not in the great and powerful, but in the small and humble".

Vatican City (AsiaNews) - "I encourage everyone to show solidarity with those territories already battered by a long war," Pope Francis urged this monring, at the end of the general audience held as he does every Wednesday in the Paul VI Hall at the Vatican. 

He invited the faithful to be close to those affected by the earthquake that in Turkey and Syria has caused thousands of deaths and injuries, saying: "Deeply moved, I pray for them and express my closeness to these peoples, to the families of the victims and to all those who are suffering from the devastating calamity. I thank those who are working to bring relief. Let us pray together that these brothers and sisters of ours may move forward in the face of this tragedy and let us ask Our Lady to protect them."

Earlier - in his address to the faithful - Pope Francis had retraced the stages of the apostolic journey he made in recent days to the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan.

"I thank God who has allowed me to make this long-desired journey," he commented, "Two 'dreams': to visit the Congolese people, custodians of an immense country, Africa's green lung, a land rich in resources and bloodied by a war that never ends because there are always those who fuel the fire. And to visit the South Sudanese people, on a pilgrimage of peace together with the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and the Moderator General of the Church of Scotland, Iain Greenshields: we went together to testify that it is possible and right to collaborate in diversity, especially if one shares faith in Christ."

"Before the authorities in Kinshasa,' the pope continued, 'I said two words: the first is negative: "enough!", stop exploiting Africa! The second is positive: together, together with dignity and mutual respect, together in the name of Christ, our hope'. The Pontiff also recalled the shocking testimonies of some Congolese victims, "especially women, who laid at the foot of the Cross weapons and other instruments of death. With them I said 'no' to violence and resignation, 'yes' to reconciliation and hope".

On the ecumenical peace pilgrimage to South Sudan, the Pontiff recalled that it was the point of arrival of a journey begun in Rome in 2019 with the South Sudanese authorities, to make a commitment to overcome the conflict and build peace.

"Unfortunately, the process of reconciliation has not advanced that far and the newborn South Sudan is a victim of the old logic of power and rivalry, which produces war, violence, refugees and internally displaced persons. Therefore, addressing those same Authorities, I invited them to turn the page, to carry forward the Peace Agreement and the Road Map, to say decisively 'no' to corruption and arms trafficking and 'yes' to encounter and dialogue". In this regard, the pontiff also stigmatised "so many so-called civilised countries that offer help, but this help consists of weapons: it is a disgrace".

In this context, the ecumenical pilgrimage was a testimony "that religion is fraternity, it is peace, it is communion; that God is Father and always and only wants the life and good of his children". "God places his hope," he concluded, "not in the great and the powerful, but in the small and the humble. Let us pray that, in the Democratic Republic of Congo and in South Sudan, and throughout Africa, the seeds of his Kingdom of love, justice and peace may germinate'.

Finally, as he does every week, Pope Francis invited us not to forget "the suffering of the Ukrainian people, so tormented: in this cold, without light, without heating, and at war".

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