On Sunday, December 25, Pope Francis, the leader of the Roman Catholic Church, spoke from St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican in his usual Christmas address, calling for a stop to the “senseless” violence in Ukraine.
The 86-year-old also demanded an end to the use of “food as a weapon” and cautioned that the fight, which has been going on for 10 months, is making food shortages worse everywhere.
Before reciting the “Urbi et Orbi” blessing (“to the city and the world”), he addressed the throngs of faithful assembled in St. Peter’s Square, some of whom were carrying Ukrainian flags.
Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February, he has constantly called for peace while denouncing the conflict and attempting to continue a delicate conversation with Moscow.
In his speech, Obama mentioned “our Ukrainian brothers and sisters who are spending this Christmas away from their homes in the dark and the cold.”
“May the Lord illuminate the thoughts of those who have the authority to stop the roar of weapons and put a quick end to this senseless war, and may he inspire us to offer concrete acts of solidarity to support all those who are suffering!”
Sadly, he continued, “we prefer to hear other counsels, dictated by worldly ways of thinking. The icy winds of conflict continue to batter humanity.”
In addition to other countries and third-world war theaters, “our period is witnessing a catastrophic famine of peace,” he stated.
He mentioned a number of troubled nations this Christmas, including Lebanon, Haiti, Syria, Yemen, Myanmar, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Afghanistan, and Yemen.
For the first time, he also advocated for “reconciliation” in Iran, which has been shaken for the past three months by rallies led by women.
The pope then exhorted people who were celebrating Christmas to think about everyone “who goes hungry while large amounts of food go to waste daily and money are being squandered on weaponry.”
In particular in Afghanistan and the nations of the Horn of Africa, he said, “the war in Ukraine has worsened this situation and put entire peoples at risk of famine.”
“We are aware that every conflict exacerbates hunger and utilizes food as a weapon, impeding its distribution to those who are already in need.
“Let us dedicate ourselves to making food just a tool of peace today, learning from the Prince of Peace (Jesus Christ), beginning with those who wield political responsibility.”