Pope Francis Prays for Peace in Ukraine and Warns of Nuclear War


Pope Francis on Sunday called for peace in Ukraine, warning that the conflict could lead to nuclear war.

He also continued his practice since the start of the war of lamenting the effects of the invasion on Ukraine without naming Russia as the aggressor.

“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,” he said.

The pope made his remarks in his annual Easter message “to the city [of Rome] and the world,” in which he typically surveys wars and humanitarian crises around the world.

In calling for peace in Ukraine, Pope Francis underscored the danger of a nuclear escalation, quoting from a 1955 manifesto by the philosopher Bertrand Russell and the scientist Albert Einstein that warned of the danger posed by nuclear weapons: “Shall we put an end to the human race, or shall mankind renounce war?”

The pope spoke from a balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica to a crowd in the square below, where he had celebrated Mass earlier in the morning. It was his first such Easter celebration since 2019. In 2020 and 2021, he celebrated Easter Mass inside the Basilica, the first time with no congregation and the second time with a small group of the faithful, on account of Covid-19 restrictions.

After Mass this year, the pope rode in an open-topped Popemobile to make the rounds of the cheering crowd in St. Peter’s Square and the adjacent Via della Conciliazione.

In his remarks, Pope Francis contrasted this return to normalcy with the outbreak of the war.

“We emerged from two years of pandemic, which took a heavy toll. It was time to come out of the tunnel together, hand in hand, pooling our strengths and resources. Instead, we are showing that we still do not have within us the spirit of Jesus, we still have the spirit of Cain, who saw Abel not as a brother, but as a rival, and thought about how to eliminate him,” the pope said.


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