Pope Francis calls for end to 'senseless' war in Ukraine in Christmas message
Pope Francis has used his annual Christmas message to make an impassioned plea for an immediate end to the war in Ukraine. In his traditional Urbi et Orbi address, to tens of thousands of people gathered in St Peter's Square at Vatican City, the Pope expressed his sorrow that "the icy winds of war" continue to shake humanity.
Pope Francis urged the end of the "senseless" conflict between Russia and Ukraine in his Christmas message delivered on Sunday from St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican. The 86-year-old Pope also cautioned that the prolonged conflict has made the global food scarcity worse, pleading with the world's leaders to refrain from using "food as a weapon" in conflict.
The Catholic Church's head was addressing the faithful gathered in huge numbers in St Peter's Square, a few of them carrying Ukrainian flags, before he delivered the "Urbi et Orbi" blessing ("to the city and the world").
Since Russia invaded Ukraine in February, Pope Francis has made several pleas for peace while denouncing the conflict and attempting to maintain a delicate conversation with Russia.
The Pope mentioned "our Ukrainian brothers and sisters who are experiencing this Christmas in the dark and cold, distant from their homes," as he spoke from the central balcony of St. Peter's.
He prayed, "May the Lord illuminate the thoughts of those who have the authority to stop the thunder of weapons and put an immediate end to this senseless conflict, and may he enlighten the minds of those who have the power to silence the thunder of weapons and put an immediate end to this senseless war!"
"Tragically, we prefer to heed other counsels, dictated by worldly ways of thinking", he added, recalling "with sorrow" that "the icy winds of war continue to buffet humanity".
He also talked about other countries facing difficult times during Christmas, whether because of internal conflict or crisis like Yemen, Afghanistan, Myanmar, Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Palestine and Haiti.
Pope France, for the first time, also appealed for "reconciliation" in Iran, which is witnessing protests led by women for the last three months. He urged everyone who was celebrating Christmas to keep in mind those "who go hungry while enormous amounts of food go to waste daily and money are being wasted on weaponry."
"Let us learn from the Prince of Peace (Jesus Christ) on this day, and, beginning with those who wield political responsibility, dedicate ourselves to making food only an instrument of peace," he continued.