At the heart of the Holy Year of Mercy, Pope Francis prays for the people of Ukraine
VATICAN CITY — At the end of Holy Mass on the Jubilee of Divine Mercy, before praying the Regina Caeli, Pope Francis appealed for peace in Ukraine, where he said “mostly the elderly and children” are suffering the consequences of a conflict that has left thousands dead and more than one million persons displaced.
The pope also announced his wish that a special collection be taken up in all Catholic churches in Europe on Sunday, April 24 to help alleviate the suffering of the people of Ukraine, and as a sign of his solidarity and that of the whole Church.
Catholics and Orthodox Christians in Ukraine who follow the Julian Calendar are still in “Great Lent” and will celebrate Easter on May 1.
In his remarks to clergy and faithful gathered in St. Peter’s Square, the pope also recalled that Monday, April 4 marks the International Day against antipersonnel mines. “Too many people continue to be killed or maimed by these terrible weapons, and brave men and women risk their lives to demine and clear mined lands,” he said.
“Let us please renew our commitment to a mine-free world.”
Here below we publish the pope’s words before praying the Regina Caeli.
On this day, which is like the heart of the Holy Year of Mercy, my thoughts go to all the people who thirst the most for reconciliation and peace. I think, in particular, here in Europe, of the ordeal of those suffering the consequences of violence in Ukraine: of all those who remain in the areas devastated by hostilities that have already caused several thousands of deaths, and of all those — more than one million — who have been forced to leave due to the grave situation that persists. It is mostly the elderly and children who are involved.
In addition to accompanying them with my constant thoughts and prayers, I have decided to promote a humanitarian aid initiative on their behalf. To this end, there will be a special collection taken up in all Catholic churches in Europe on Sunday, April 24. I invite the faithful to join in this initiative through their generous contribution. This act of charity, in addition to alleviating material suffering, is meant to express my closeness and solidarity, and that of the entire Church. I fervently hope that it may help to promote, without further delay, peace and respect for law in that land so sorely tried.
And as we pray for peace, let us remember that tomorrow is the World Day against antipersonnel mines. Too many people continue to be killed or maimed by these terrible weapons, and brave men and women risk their lives to demine and clear mined lands. Let us please renew our commitment to a mine-free world!
Lastly, I greet all of you who have participated in this celebration, especially the groups that cultivate the Divine Mercy spirituality.
Together let us all turn in prayer to our Mother.
Regina Caeli …
Queen of heaven, rejoice, alleluia.
The Son whom you merited to bear, alleluia.
Has risen, as He said, alleluia.
Pray for us to God, alleluia.
V. Rejoice and be glad, O Virgin Mary, alleluia.
R. For the Lord has truly risen, alleluia.
Let us pray.
O God, who through the resurrection of your Son Jesus Christ
gave rejoicing to the world,
grant, we pray, that through his Mother, the Virgin Mary,
we may obtain the joy of everlasting life.
Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Note:The Regina Caeli (Queen of Heaven) is one of the four seasonal Marian antiphons of the Blessed Virgin Mary, prescribed to be sung or recited in the Liturgy of the Hours at the conclusion of Compline, or night prayer. The Regina Caeli is sung or recited in place of the Angelus during the Easter season, from Holy Saturday through the Saturday of Pentecost.
Diane Montagnais Rome correspondent for Aleteia’s English edition.