Pope Francis Celebrates Easter With Plea For Peace In Ukraine

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In an Easter message, Pope Francis spoke this weekend of the urgent push for peace in Ukraine as the country’s defenders continue to fight off Russian leader Vladimir Putin’s forces. The Russian military inflicted and continues to inflict devastation across Ukraine, with millions upon millions displaced and thousands upon thousands dead. The destruction that Russian forces have left in their wake provides additional challenges to Ukrainians hoping to regain their security and freedom. Francis remarked as follows:

‘May there be peace for war-torn Ukraine, so sorely tried by the violence and destruction of the cruel and senseless war into which it was dragged. In this terrible night of suffering and death, may a new dawn of hope soon appear! Let there be a decision for peace. May there be an end to the flexing of muscles while people are suffering. Please, please, let us not get used to war! Let us all commit ourselves to imploring peace, from our balconies and in our streets! Peace! May the leaders of nations hear people’s plea for peace.’

The Pope also spoke of some of the individual victims of the violence that has enveloped Ukraine. Russian ground troops recently exited areas in Ukraine including some around the capital, Kyiv — and Ukrainian personnel streaming into the liberated areas have discovered horrors, such as nearly 1,000 civilians killed near the capital. Images from the Kyiv suburb known as Bucha recently circulated showing civilian corpses left across the area — nearly two dozen lined a single roadway, and some of those who were discovered had their hands tied. Dead civilians were found amid scenes of everyday life, spotlighting the indiscriminate nature of the violence. Francis added the following:

‘I hold in my heart all the many Ukrainian victims, the millions of refugees and internally displaced persons, the divided families, the elderly left to themselves, the lives broken and the cities razed to the ground. I see the faces of the orphaned children fleeing from the war. As we look at them, we cannot help but hear their cry of pain, along with that of all those other children who suffer throughout our world: those dying of hunger or lack of medical care, those who are victims of abuse and violence, and those denied the right to be born. Amid the pain of the war, there are also encouraging signs, such as the open doors of all those families and communities that are welcoming migrants and refugees throughout Europe. May these numerous acts of charity become a blessing for our societies, at times debased by selfishness and individualism, and help to make them welcoming to all.’

Although the Pope remains opposed to abortion, he’s allowed Catholic priests to offer forgiveness tied to the act. Meanwhile, the fight in Ukraine is continuing. The Biden administration recently outlined a wide-ranging package of defense assistance for the country worth some $800 million and consisting of various weapons to use in their struggle, and shipments that are a part of that aid have already started getting to Ukraine. Amid refusals by Russian leaders to acknowledge the true nature of their strategic losses — including the sinking of the large warship known as the Moskva after Ukrainians struck it, the fight could be lengthy. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken recently told European officials that the Biden administration believes the war in Ukraine could last through the end of this year.