In his weekly General Audience, Pope Francis dedicated his thoughts to the nations facing the devastating impact of war.
The pontiff, as has become customary, urged believers to offer prayers for peace on a daily basis and wherever conflicts persist.
Specifically, the Holy Father directed his heartfelt prayers to Ukraine, describing the nation as “martyred” due to the ongoing repercussions of Russia’s invasion in February 2022. The toll on civilians in Ukraine has been severe, with more than 9,600 lives lost and over 17,500 individuals sustaining injuries.
Pope Francis also extended his call for prayers to the Holy Land, emphasizing the need for peace in both Palestine and Israel. He highlighted the grim reality of the conflict, citing an October incident in which over 1,400 Israelis lost their lives in attacks attributed to Hamas. Subsequent retaliatory airstrikes on the Gaza Strip have resulted in a staggering toll, with over 11,000 casualties and around 2,500 individuals still missing beneath the rubble, as reported by Gaza’s Hamas-run health ministry.
The Pope’s compassionate plea didn’t end there; he turned his attention to Sudan, a nation gripped by a devastating civil war between rival military factions since April. The conflict in Sudan has claimed the lives of an estimated 9,000 people, forcing an additional 5.6 million to flee their homes. The international community has termed this situation a “humanitarian catastrophe,” with discernible signs of ethnic cleansing, according to the UK’s Minister for Africa.
In his concluding remarks, Pope Francis reminded the faithful about the prevalence of conflict worldwide, lamenting the abundance of wars. He urged believers to join him in praying for peace every day, emphasizing the collective desire for a world free from the scourge of war.
“Let us think about wherever there is war,” said the Pope, acknowledging the pervasive suffering. “Let us pray for peace: Every day, take some time to pray for peace. We desire peace,” he added, underlining the universal yearning for a more peaceful and harmonious world.