Pope: ‘Wars destroy people and are defeat for humanity’

At his Angelus address on Sunday, Pope Francis decries suffering in Myanmar, the Middle East, Ukraine, and Haiti, while urging everyone to pursue paths of peace and recalling World Leprosy Day.

By Deborah Castellano Lubov

“Wars are a disaster for the peoples and a defeat for humanity,” said Pope Francis, speaking to the faithful during his Sunday Angelus, as he appealed for Myanmar, the Middle East, Ukraine, and Haiti.

Focusing on Myanmar, he appealed for the facilitation of humanitarian aid and for pursuing paths of dialogue.

“For three years now,” he said, “the cry of pain and the noise of weapons have taken the place of the smile that characterises the people of Myanmar.”

“For three years now, the cry of pain and the noise of weapons have taken the place of the smile that characterises the people of Myanmar.”

Appeal for Myanmar

Given this, the Pope said, he joined his voice with that of Burmese Bishops in praying that “the weapons of destruction may be transformed into instruments to grow in humanity and justice.”

While the Pope acknowledged that peace is a journey, he invited all parties involved “to take steps of dialogue and to clothe themselves with understanding,” so that “the land of Myanmar may reach the goal of fraternal reconciliation.”

“Let humanitarian aid be allowed to pass through to ensure the necessities of every person,” he said.

Fighting in Myanmar against the military government that seized power three years ago has grown to the point that most say the country is now in a civil war.

Palestine, Israel, Ukraine

The Holy Father then turned to the Middle East, focusing on Palestine and Israel as the humanitarian crisis in Gaza continues.

“And the same in the Middle East, Palestine and Israel, and wherever there is fighting: respect the people!” the Pope appealed, adding, “I always think in a heartfelt way of all the victims, especially civilians, caused by the war in Ukraine.”

“Please let their cry for peace be heard: the cry of the people, who are tired of violence and want the war, which is a disaster for the peoples and a defeat for humanity, to stop!”

“Please let their cry for peace be heard: the cry of the people, who are tired of violence and want the war, which is a disaster for the peoples and a defeat for humanity, to stop.”

Haiti requires renewed support

He also reminded Christians to pray for Haiti.

Despite expressing his “relief” to learn of the recent release of religious sisters and others this week, the Pope, however, appealed, “I call for the release of all those still kidnapped and for an end to all violence; for all to make their contribution to the peaceful development of the country, for which renewed support from the international community is needed.”

Violence and tensions remain high in Haiti, despite the release this week of the six nuns of the Congregation of Saint Anne who were taken hostage by armed men on 19 January, along with two abducted laypeople, according to Haitian Archbishop Max Leroy Mésidor of Port-au-Prince.

Armed attack on Church in Istanbul

The Holy Father also decried today’s attack on a Catholic Church in Istanbul.

During Sunday Mass, armed men targeted an Italian-language Church in the nation’s capital, killing one person, according to the nation’s Interior Minister, Ali Yerlikaya.

“I express my sympathy to the community of St. Mary Draperis Church in Istanbul, which suffered an armed attack during Mass that left one person dead and several wounded,” he said.

World Leprosy Day

The Holy Father remembered World Leprosy Day,  which is celebrated this year on 28 January, the last Sunday of January.

This international day is an opportunity to celebrate people who have experienced leprosy, raise awareness of the disease, and call for an end to leprosy-related stigma and discrimination.

“I encourage all those involved in the rescue and social reintegration of people affected by this disease, which, although in decline, is still among the most feared and affects the poorest and most marginalised.”

Also, keeping with an annual tradition, young pilgrims who participated in the “Caravan for Peace” initiative, organized by the Catholic Action group in Rome, were at the Pope’s side as they read to the faithful in the Square and those following remotely their appeal for peace.

Catholic Action's young people involved in 'Caravan of Peace' with Pope Francis at the Sunday Angelus
Catholic Action’s young people involved in ‘Caravan of Peace’ with Pope Francis at the Sunday Angelus