Vatican City, Feb 25, 2023 / 08:30 am (CNA).
Pope Francis said a spontaneous prayer for peace during a Vatican event for the first anniversary of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine on Friday.
After saying a few words about the war in Ukraine, the pope invited those present to pray with him.
“Holy Father, who art in heaven, look at our miseries, look at our wounds, look our pain. Look also at our selfishness, our petty interests, and the capacity we have to destroy ourselves,” he prayed. “Heal us. Heal our hearts, heal our minds, heal our eyes that they may see the beauty that you have made and not destroy it in selfishness. Sow in us the seed of peace. Amen.”
Pope Francis prayed in front of around 240 people, the guests for a showing of a 2022 documentary by film director Evgeny Afineevsky: “Freedom on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom.”
The director invited refugees, the poor, and Ukrainians living in Rome to attend the Feb. 24 screening, which took place in the Vatican’s New Synod Hall.
Some of the people featured in the documentary were also present at the showing.
“When God made man, he said to take the earth and make it grow, make it beautiful. The spirit of war is the opposite: destroying, destroying, not letting it grow, destroying everyone — men, women, children, the elderly, everyone,” the pope said in off-the-cuff remarks at the event.
“Today marks a year of this war,” he said. “Let us look at Ukraine, pray for Ukraine and open our hearts to sorrow. Let us not be ashamed to grieve and mourn, for a war is destruction, a war always diminishes us. May God make us understand this.”
At the end of the event, Pope Francis greeted some of those present before returning to his residence.
In a special appeal at the end of his general audience on Feb. 22, the pope called the conflict in Ukraine an “absurd and cruel war.”
“The toll of dead, wounded, refugees and displaced persons, destruction, economic and social damage speaks for itself. May the Lord forgive so many crimes and so much violence,” he said.
“Let us remain close to the tormented Ukrainian people, who continue to suffer,” he continued, ”and let us ask ourselves: has everything possible been done to stop the war? I appeal to those who have authority over nations to make a concrete commitment to end the conflict, to achieve a cease-fire and to start peace negotiations. What is built on rubble will never be a true victory.”
The Israeli-American filmmaker Evgeny Afineevsky is also the director of the 2020 documentary ”Francesco,” which was screened at the Vatican in 2021 for around 100 people, including refugees from Afghanistan.
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