As the one-year anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine approached, Pope Francis delivered an appeal for peace and urged leaders to take action to end the conflict. In his weekly general audience on February 22, the pope spoke about the war’s sad and destructive impact on the people of Ukraine, expressing his concern for the record of deaths, injuries, refugees and displaced people, destruction, and economic and social damage. He noted that the record speaks for itself and asked whether all that could have been done to stop the war had been done.
The Pope’s call for action was even more intense, given that the anniversary of Russia’s invasion was only two days away. He urged people to join him in praying for peace and offering concrete assistance to the millions of Ukrainians who have sought safety abroad and for the millions of others displaced within Ukraine or struggling to survive because of the fighting.
Pope Francis promised that Catholics would continue to stand with the “martyred Ukrainian people who continue to suffer.” He appealed to those in positions of authority over nations to work concretely to end the conflict, reach a ceasefire, and start peace negotiations, stating that “That which is built on ruins will never be a true victory.” His message was one of hope and a plea to all involved to work towards peace for the people of Ukraine.