Pope Francis has described the war in Ukraine as “senseless” and called for it to end in his traditional Christmas message.
Delivering the 10th Christmas “Urbi et Orbi” (to the city and the world) blessing and message of his pontificate, the head of the Roman Catholic Church on Sunday also urged people to look beyond the “shallow holiday glitter” and help the homeless, immigrants, refugees and the poor in their midst seeking comfort, warmth, and food.
“Let us see the faces of all those children who, everywhere in the world, long for peace,” he said, speaking from the central balcony of Saint Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican.
“Let us also see the faces of our Ukrainian brothers and sisters who are experiencing this Christmas in the dark and cold, far from their homes due to the devastation caused by 10 months of war,” Francis told the tens of thousands of people in the square below.
“May the Lord inspire us to offer concrete gestures of solidarity to assist all those who are suffering, and may he enlighten the minds of those who have the power to silence the thunder of weapons and put an immediate end to this senseless war!” the 86-year-old pontiff said.
The pope again condemned the use of food as a weapon of war, saying the war in Ukraine had put millions at risk of famine, mentioning Afghanistan and countries in the Horn of Africa.
The Ukraine conflict, the pope said, should not diminish concern for people whose lives have been devastated by other conflicts or humanitarian crises, naming among others, Syria, Myanmar, Iran, Haiti and the Sahel region of Africa.
“We know that every war causes hunger and exploits food as a weapon,” he said, lamenting what he described as “a grave famine of peace”.
“[Let us] starting with those who hold political responsibilities, commit ourselves to making food solely an instrument of peace,” he added.