At today’s Angelus Francis appealed for the violence in Ukraine to stop. “God wants Christians to be united. Jesus had the same material and spiritual thirst as us”
At today’s Angelus Francis appealed for the violence in Ukraine to stop. “God wants Christians to be united. Jesus had the same material and spiritual thirst as us”.
“It is a bad thing that Christians are divided, Jesus wants us united, one body. Our sins, history has divided us. For this we must pray that the Holy Spirit bring us together again,” Francis stressed at the Angelus. “I follow with deep concern the escalation of fighting in eastern Ukraine, which continues to cause many casualties among the civilian population. As I assure you of my prayers for all who suffer, I renew a heartfelt appeal so that efforts for dialogue can resume and an end to all hostilities.”
“We continue, therefore, to pray and strive for the full unity of the Disciples of Christ, in the certainty that He Himself is at our side and sustains us with the strength of His Spirit so that this goal can be reached.” This was the Pope’s invitation to faithful at the Angelus in St. Peter’s Square in the annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. “This evening, with the faithful of the diocese of Rome and with the representatives of the various Churches and ecclesial communities, we will meet in the Basilica of St. Paul Outside-the-Walls to pray fervently to the Lord, so that he strengthens our commitment to the unity of all believers in Christ,” the Pope said recalling the Vespers that will be celebrated in the Roman Basilica this afternoon.
“It is a bad thing that Christians are divided,” Francis said, speaking off the cuff. “Jesus wants us united, one body. Our sins, history has divided us. For this we must pray that the Holy Spirit bring us together again.” “God, who made Himself man, had our thirst, not only of water, but above all the thirst of a full life, free from the slavery of evil and death. At the same time, with His incarnation God has placed His thirst, because God also thirsts, in the heart of mankind: Jesus of Nazareth. Therefore, in the heart of Christ, human and divine thirst meets. And the desire for the unity of his disciples belongs to this thirst,” he added. “We find it expressed in the prayers raised to the Father before the Passion: “So that they all may be one”.”
“That is what Jesus wanted, the unity of all,” the Pope said, still speaking off the cuff. “The devil, as we know, is the father of division. He is one that always divides, always makes war and does so much evil.”
Around 3 thousand children from Rome’s Azione Cattolica Ragazzi (ACR, Catholic Action for Youth) came to St. Peter’s Square in a celebratory procession called “Carovana della Pace” (“Caravan for Peace) brandishing the slogan “Peace is the way forward”, to attend Pope Francis’ Angelus prayer. Participants of the procession, including parents and educators, were welcomed and blessed by Cardinal Agostino Vallini – the Pope’s Vicar General for the Diocese of Rome – in St. Peter’s Square.
During the Angelus, two children representing Rome’s ACR – Sara and Matteo – appeared at the window of the papal studio alongside the Pope, to read out a message addressed to him and release two doves as a gesture of peace. As the message was being read out, children in the square released a hot-air balloon with messages of peace and balloons. “Representing the AXR, we have come here today, along with many friends, our families and educators, to communicate our wishes for peace to the whole world, seeing as though there has recently been a great need for peace in the spirit of the Lord’s joy, to be happy and smile.” As they talked to the Pope about the educational initiative they are taking part in, about the discovery of instruments to “build” peace, Sara and Matteo explained that “we are a team of scientists, working in the big laboratory that is the world. Only by working together and in the right way, completing all of our small peace projects, can we make the Lord’s universal plan for all of us become a reality.” They then illustrated a special project they are trying to raise funds for: a “flying pump” for villages in the Sahel, in Burkina Faso, that can be used to extract water from the subsoil and irrigate fields. They ended their message by expressing their love to Francis in Spanish: “Papa, Te queremos mucho!”.
At the end of the Angelus, Francis reminded his audience that “today we celebrate World Leprosy Day. I express my closeness to all people who suffer from this disease, as well as those take care of them, and for those who fight to remove the causes of the disease, whose conditions of life do not dignify man. Let us renew our commitment of solidarity for these brothers and sisters!” Francis then sent out a special greeting to Rome’s Filipino community. “My dear ones, the Filipino people are wonderful, for their strong and joyful faith. May the Lord sustain you always, you who live far from your country. Thank you for your witness” the Pope said in light of his recent visit to the Philippines. “And thank you so much for all the good that you do for us; because you sow faith to us. You give a beautiful witness of faith!”