“This means destroying the future, causing dramatic trauma in the smallest and most innocent among us,” he said. “This is the bestiality of war – a barbarous and sacrilegious act!”
“War should not be something that is inevitable. We should not accustom ourselves to war,” the pontiff said. “Instead, we need to convert today’s anger into a commitment for tomorrow, because if, after what is happening, we remain like we were before, we will all be guilty in some way. Before the danger of self-destruction, may humanity understand that the moment has come to abolish war, to erase it from human history before it erases human history.”
“I beg every political leader to reflect on this, to dedicate themselves to this! And, looking on battered Ukraine to understand how each day of war worsens the situation for everyone,” said the pope.
“Let us continue to pray untiringly to the Queen of Peace,” he said, noting that he had consecrated humanity and especially Russia and Ukraine to the Immaculate Heart of Mary on March 25.
That prayer of consecration was joined by scores of bishops, priests and lay faithful from around the world. Pope Francis thanked everyone for “such a huge and intense participation.”
The pope also took his plea to social media, using his English-language Twitter account to post his comments in English, Russian and Ukrainian to his nearly 19 million followers there.
The war in Ukraine has displaced some ten million people from their homes, 3.6 million of whom have left for neighboring countries, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees has said.
As of March 23 the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights has recorded 977 civilian deaths and nearly 1,600 injuries in Ukraine, but considers these figures to be incomplete and far fewer than the final casualty counts, the Washington Post reports.
Thousands of soldiers on both the Ukrainian and Russian sides are believed to have been killed in the fighting, though estimates vary significantly and cannot yet be confirmed.
Kevin J. Jones is a senior staff writer with Catholic News Agency. He was a recipient of a 2014 Catholic Relief Services' Egan Journalism Fellowship.
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