Recalling his upcoming Apostolic Visit to Marseille, France, this coming Friday, Pope Francis offered his closeness to the war-torn people of Ukraine, and to all people in lands torn by war.
The Pope’s remarks came during his Sunday Angelus address to the faithful in St. Peter’s Square.
Pope Francis will make the two-day visit to the southern French city of Marseille on Friday and Saturday to close the “Mediterranean Meetings” (Rencontres Méditerranéennes), which is gathering bishops and young people from across the Mediterranean on 17-24 September 2023.
The Holy Father had praised the upcoming Visit as an opportunity to promote fraternity, through the Meetings, which will gather representatives from the region.
The 22-23 September visit will mark Pope Francis’ 44th Apostolic Journey abroad, after having made an Apostolic Visit to Mongolia earlier this month.
Speaking at the Angelus, the Pope called the Meetings “a beautiful initiative,” noting it “winds its way through important Mediterranean cities, bringing together ecclesial and civil leaders to promote paths of peace, collaboration and integration around the mare nostrum, with special attention to the phenomenon of migration.”
“It represents,” the Holy Father highlighted, “a challenge that is not easy, as we see also from the chronicles of these days, but which must be faced together.”
This, he insisted, is “essential for the future of all,” which “will only be prosperous if it is built on fraternity, putting human dignity and concrete people first, especially the most needy.”
The Holy Father went on to recall the “martyred” people of Ukraine, and once again, called for peace in the country being devastated by war, and all countries wounded by war.
“We continue to pray for the martyred Ukrainian people and for peace in every war-torn land.”
Pope Francis has made various appeals for an end to the war in Ukraine, calling consistently for peace, since Russia stepped up its invasion of its neighbour over a year and a half ago.
The Pope has sent delegates and supplies to offer assistance, and envoys, including Cardinal Matteo Zuppi, to work toward peace.
Earlier this month, the Holy Father met with members of the Synod of the Hierarchy of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church, and invited Christians to dedicate October to praying for peace and reconciliation in Ukraine, read more here.