One week after meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Pope Francis urged that “we must not get used to war” as he prayed for peace in Ukraine and Sudan.
Newsroom (21/05/2023 11:50 AM, Gaudium Press) In his Regina Caeli address on May 21, the pope entreated people to “continue to stand by the battered people of Ukraine” more than one year after Russia’s invasion.
The day prior, Pope Francis entrusted Italian Cardinal Matteo Zuppi with a peace mission on behalf of the Vatican to try to help end the war in Ukraine.
Pope Francis also prayed for peace in Sudan, where fighting between the country’s military and a coalition of paramilitary forces has killed hundreds and displaced nearly 1 million people.
“It is sad, but one month after the outbreak of violence in Sudan, the situation continues to be grave,” he said.
The pope welcomed the “partial agreements” that have been made between the country’s warring parties one day after they signed a seven-day cease-fire.
“I renew a heartfelt call for the laying down of arms and call on the international community to spare no effort to make dialogue prevail and alleviate the suffering of the people,” Pope Francis said.
“Please, let us not get used to conflict and violence. We must not get used to war!”
In his brief spiritual meditation, Pope Francis spoke about the power of intercessory prayer with a reminder that Jesus himself is in heaven interceding on our behalf before the Father.
The pope noted that many countries, including Italy and some dioceses in the United States, celebrate the solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord on Sunday.
“Why are we celebrating? Because with the Ascension, something new and beautiful happened: Jesus brought our humanity into heaven … that is, in God,” he said.
Quoting the fourth-century bishop St. Gregory of Nyssa, he said: “‘What splendid news! He who became man for us … to make us his brothers, presents himself as man before the Father to bear with himself all those who are joined with him.’”
Pope Francis added: “What does Jesus do in heaven? He is there for us before the Father, continually showing our humanity to him, showing his wounds. I like to think that Jesus, before the Father, prays like this, showing him his wounds. … He shows him the price of redemption and the Father is moved. This is something I like to think about.”
At the end of his Regina Caeli address, Pope Francis marked World Communications Day by thanking journalists and encouraging them to always work in “the service of truth and the common good.”
The pope also greeted pro-life groups one day after Italy’s national “Demonstration for Life” and highlighted the beginning of Laudato si’ Week May 21–28. Pope Francis asked people to use their skills and creativity to do something to “care for our common home.”
Pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square from Mali, Argentina, Malta, and many other countries received Laudato si’ booklets from the Vatican, which were printed in collaboration with the Stockholm Environmental Institute.
A marching band from Puerto Rico played music in St. Peter’s Square at the end of the audience and a large group of young people wearing red baseball caps from the Archdiocese of Genoa cheered loudly as the pope mentioned their visit to the Vatican.
“I wish you all a good Sunday. Please don’t forget to pray for me. Please do not forget,” Pope Francis said.
- Raju Hasmukh with files from CNA