Pope Francis warned against what he described as humanity’s “attachment to war” as he deplored the “threatening winds” on the doorstep of eastern Europe amid a crisis between Russia and Ukraine.
“We are attached to wars, and this is tragic,” said the pontiff during a meeting with leaders of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches at the Vatican.
“Humanity, which prides itself on being ahead in science, in thought, in so many beautiful things, is lagging behind in weaving peace. It is a champion in making war,” he said.
The United has accused Russia of planning to invade Ukraine within days, a charge denied by Moscow, which claims to have begun withdrawing some of the 149,000 troops that Kyiv now says are on its borders.
“Threatening winds are still blowing across the steppes of eastern Europe, lighting the fuses and fires of weapons and leaving the hearts of the poor and the innocent freezing,” said Pope Francis.
He said many had hoped that humankind’s taste for war might be sated by the third millennium, “yet humanity still seems to be groping in the dark.”
During his pontificate, Pope Benedict XV denounced the incivility of war as “useless slaughter”.
Pope Francis underlined how the warning “went unheeded by the leaders of the nations involved in the First World War.”
“Just as St John Paul II’s appeal to avert the conflict in Iraq went unheeded,” said the Church leader.
In his speech on Friday, the pontiff highlighted the conflicts in the Middle East, in Syria and Iraq, in the Ethiopian region of Tigray, and the “drama” facing Lebanon.
“They are the motherland of the Eastern Catholic Churches: they have developed there, preserving millenary traditions, and many of you, members of the Dicastery, are their children and heirs,” he said.
“It seems that the greatest prize for peace should be given to wars: a contradiction,” he said. – with Wires report