November 25, 2022

"The world acknowledges this people bold and strong, a people that suffers and prays, weeps and fights, resists and hopes: a noble and martyred people."

Pope Francis issues a moving letter from the depths of his heart to the suffering people of Ukraine.... encouraging them as they brace for the likelihood of harder times as winter sets in...


Friday 25 November 2022

A Letter of the Holy Father to the Ukrainian People at Nine Months From the Beginning of the War *

Dear Ukrainian Brothers and Sisters!

For nine months, now, the absurd madness of war has been unleashed upon your land. Your skies rumble incessantly with the sinister roar of explosions and the unnerving sound of sirens. Your cities are pounded by bombs while showers of missiles bring death, destruction and pain, hunger, thirst and cold. In your streets many were forced to flee, leaving their homes and loved ones. Alongside your great rivers, rivers of blood and tears flow daily.

I would like to unite my tears to yours and tell you that there is not a day in which I am not close to you and when I do not carry you in my heart and in my prayers. Your pain is my pain. In the cross of Jesus today I see you, you who suffer the terror unleashed by this aggression. Yes, the cross that tortured the Lord lives again in the tortures found on the corpses, in mass graves discovered in various cities, in those and many other bloody images that have entered the soul, which raise a cry: why? How can men treat other men like this?

Many tragic stories about which I learn return to my mind. Above all those regarding the little ones: so many children killed, wounded or orphaned, torn from their mothers! I cry with you for every little child that lost their lives, because of this war - like Kira in Odesa, like Lisa in Vinnytsia, and like hundreds of other children: in each of them all of humanity is defeated. Now they are in the bosom of God, they see your troubles and they pray for them to end. But how can we not feel anguish for them and for many young and old who have been deported? The pain of mothers of Ukraine is incalculable.

I also think of you young people, who instead of taking hold of the dreams you had cultivated for the future you had to take up weapons to courageously defend your country; I think of you, wives, who have lost your husbands and biting your lips you continue in silence, with dignity and determination, to make every sacrifice for your children; to you, adults, who try in every way to protect your loved ones; to you, elderly people, who instead of enjoying a serene sunset you were thrust into the dark night of war; to you, women who have been subjected to violence and carry great burdens in your heart; to all of you, wounded in body and soul. I think of you and am close to you with affection and with admiration for how you face such tough trials.

And I think of you, volunteers, who spend every day for the people; to you, Shepherds of the holy people of God, who - often with great risk to your safety - you have remained close to the people, bringing the consolation of God and the solidarity of brothers, creatively transforming community places and convents into lodgings where hospitality is offered, as well as relief and food for those in difficult conditions. Again, I am thinking of refugees and internally displaced persons, who find themselves far from their homes, many of which have been destroyed; and to the Authorities, for whom I pray: on them falls the duty to govern the country in tragic times and to make farsighted decisions for peace and for the development of the economy during the destruction of many vital infrastructures, in the city as well as in rural areas.

Dear brothers and sisters, throughout this sea of ‚Äč‚Äčevil and pain - ninety years after the terrible genocide of the Holodomor - I am in awe of your good ardour. Despite the immense tragedy to which you are subjected, the people Ukrainian has never been discouraged or given over to pity. The world acknowledges this people bold and strong, a people that suffers and prays, weeps and fights, resists and hopes: a noble and martyred people. I continue to be close to you, with my heart and with prayer, with humanitarian concern, so that you feel accompanied, so that we do not become accustomed to war, so that you are not left alone today and especially tomorrow, when perhaps the temptation will come to forget your sufferings.

In these months, in which the rigidity of the climate makes what you are living through even more tragic, I would like the affection of the Church, the power of prayer, the love that so many brothers and sisters at all latitudes have for you would be like caresses to your face. In a few weeks it will be Christmas and the cries of suffering will be felt even more. But I would like to go back with you to Bethlehem, to the trial that the Holy Family had to face on that night, in which it just felt the cold and darkness. Instead, the light came: not from men, but from God; not from the earth, but from Heaven.

Your and our Mother, the Theotokos, will watch over you. To her Immaculate Heart, in union with the Bishops of the world, I have consecrated the Church and all humanity, in particular - your Country and Russia. To her Mother's Heart I present your sufferings and your tears. Of her who, as a great son of your land wrote, "brought God into our world", let us never tire of asking for the longed-for gift of peace, with the certainty that "for God nothing is impossible" (Lk 1:37). May He fulfil the just expectations of your hearts, heal your wounds and give you his consolation. I am with you; I am praying for you and I ask you to pray for me.

May the Lord bless you and the Theotokos protect you.

Rome, Saint John in Lateran, 24 November 2022



* an unofficial translation from the Italian original

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