Pope Francis today made a historic address to Europe in the midst of the war in Ukraine in which he denounced the selfishness behind “claims of nationalist interests” of “some potentate” and which produce only death and destruction, in a possible allusion to President Vladimir Putin, without calling him by name.
Pope Francis told his listeners, “The icy winds of war, which bring only death, destruction and hatred in their wake, have swept down powerfully upon the lives of many people and affected us all.” The audience included civil authorities and members of the Diplomatic Corps of Malta gathered in the Grand Council Chamber of the Grand Master’s Palace in Valletta.
“The icy winds of war, which bring only death, destruction and hatred in their wake, have swept down powerfully upon the lives of many people and affected us all.”
The Pope said, “Once again, some potentate, sadly caught up in anachronistic claims of nationalist interests, is provoking and fomenting conflicts, whereas ordinary people sense the need to build a future that, will either shared, or not be at all.” Emphatically encouraging the assembly, he said, “Now in the night of the war that is fallen upon humanity, let us not allow the dream of peace to fade!”
Quoting Giorgio La Pira, the saintly Mayor of Florence, the Pope also pointed out that the “childish” pretensions on the part of “some powerful people” is a scandal, given that these leaders do not think minimally of their people or of the consequences of conflicts that have global consequences.
The Pope told those gathered in the Grand Council Chamber, “How much we need a ‘human moderation’ before the infantile and destructive aggression that threatens us, before the risk of an ‘enlarged Cold War’ that can stifle the life of entire peoples and generations.”
Unfortunately, this “childishness” has not disappeared. The Holy Father said, “It has reemerged powerfully in the seductions of autocracy, new forms of imperialism, widespread aggressiveness, and the inability to build bridges and start from the poorest in our midst.”
On his first day in Malta – the anniversary of the death of John Paul II who visited the island twice – the Pope denounced “ideologies” that are new dictatorships that attack life and its dignity (from birth to death).
The Pope denounced the migration crisis and indifference as two sides of the same coin. The Pope called for helping those displaced by conflicts and showed his sorrow for the outbreak of war in Ukraine.
The Pope has asked to make “renunciations” for a “greater good”. Also because a new cold war or a new great war in the heart of Europe was considered unthinkable.
“Yet from the east of Europe, from the land of sunrise, the dark shadows of war have now spread. We had thought that invasions of other countries, savage street fighting and atomic threats were grim memories of a distant past,” lamented the Pope.
After the greeting of the President of the Republic of Malta, George William Vella, the Bishop of Rome delivered his address in which he affirmed that Malta, “which shines brilliantly in the heart of the Mediterranean, can serve as an inspiration to us, for it is urgent to restore beauty to the face of a humanity marred by war.”
“But the solution to the crisis of each is care for those of all, since global problems require global solutions,” the Pope affirmed.
In an appeal addressed to world leaders, he implored, “Let us go back to gathering in international peace conferences, where the theme of disarmament will have a central place, where our thoughts will turn to future generations.”
Speaking directly and critically, Pope Francis insisted that the money invested in weapons should be used to dignify humanity: “And where the enormous funds that continue to be destined to weaponry may be diverted to development, health care and nutrition.”
Additionally, the Pope stressed that migrants are not a “virus” or represent an “invasion threat” to be fought and therefore indicated that “indifference” was not the teaching that St. Paul has left on the Mediterranean island, on the contrary, he remarked the sense of “hospitality” very present in the Maltese people. He encouraged this virtus, saying, “Other people are not a virus from which we need to be protected, but persons to be accepted.”
The Holy Father concluded the address with these heartfelt, exhortatory words, “May Malta, the heart of the Mediterranean, continue to foster the heartbeat of hope, care for life, acceptance of others, yearning for peace, with the help of the God whose name is peace.”