Pope Francis to Europe’s Catholic bishops: The blood of Ukrainian children stirs our consciences

Hannah Brockhaus   By Hannah Brockhaus for CNA


Pope Francis at the general audience in Paul VI Hall on March 16, 2022. / Vatican Media.

Vatican City, Mar 18, 2022 / 05:58 am (CNA).

The suffering of Ukrainian women and children in the war should move our consciences, Pope Francis has told Europe’s bishops.

“The tragedy of the war that is taking place in the heart of Europe leaves us astonished; we would never have thought to see such scenes again, reminiscent of the great wars of the last century,” he said in a letter released on March 18.

Pope Francis’ message was sent to the 3rd European Catholic Social Days, taking place in Bratislava, Slovakia, on March 17-20.

The letter, dated March 15, was addressed to Archbishop Gintaras Grušas of Vilnius, Lithuania, the president of the Council of the Bishops’ Conferences of Europe (CCEE).

“The blood and tears of children, the suffering of women and men who are defending their land or fleeing from bombs shake our conscience,” Pope Francis said.

“Once again humanity is threatened by a perverse abuse of power and partisan interests, which condemns defenseless people to suffer all forms of brutal violence.”

He went on: “The piercing cry for help of our Ukrainian brothers and sisters urges us as a community of believers not only to reflect seriously, but to cry with them and to do something for them; to share the anguish of a people whose identity, history, and tradition have been wounded.”

The pope thanked the European bishops for sending aid to the Ukrainian population, as well as their hospitality toward Ukrainian refugees.

Francis said: “Let us not grow weary in this, and let us not cease to invoke peace from God and from men. I therefore urge you to continue to pray that those who hold the fate of nations will leave no stone unturned to stop the war and open a constructive dialogue to put an end to the immense humanitarian tragedy it is causing.”

One of the invited speakers at the 2022 European Catholic Social Days is Cardinal Michael Czerny, who traveled to the Ukrainian border with Slovakia on March 16 as Pope Francis’ envoy.

Also among the guests is Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich, president of the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the EU (COMECE).

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the four-day meeting has been limited to 150 participants, while others are encouraged to follow the events online.

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