After praying the midday Angelus this September 18, Pope Francis mentioned a new eruption of conflict, as well as reiterating his constant call for peace in Ukraine:
I am saddened by the recent fighting between Azerbaijan and Armenia. I express my spiritual closeness to the families of the victims, and I urge the parties to respect the ceasefire in view of a peace agreement. Let us not forget that peace is possible when weapons are silenced and dialogue begins!
And let us continue to pray for the suffering people of Ukraine and for peace in every land bloodied by war.
On September 13, the Azerbaijani army launched a large-scale offensive against Armenia that is believed to have caused the death of nearly 170 people. The two countries blame each other for the confrontation, two years after Azerbaijan took control of the Nagorno-Karabakh region after a war that left more than 6,500 people dead. A cease-fire was reached mid-week, via international mediation, but the situation remains extremely volatile.
Even when it “stinks”
The Holy Father repeatedly urges dialogue, insisting that while it can be difficult, it’s the only way to hope that peace can be restored.
On his way home from Kazakhstan last week, he spoke of this, saying that dialogue with the aggressor, or the one who is seen to be in the wrong, might “stink,” but it has to be done, as it’s the “only reasonable door to peace”:
I think it is always difficult to understand the dialogue with the states that started a war, and it seems that the first step was from there, from that side. It is difficult but we must not discard it; we must extend the opportunity for dialogue to everyone, to everyone! Because there is always the possibility that in dialogue we can change things, and also offer another point of view, another point of consideration.
I don’t exclude dialogue with any power, whether it’s at war, whether it’s the aggressor … sometimes dialogue has to be done in this manner, but it has to be done; it “stinks,” but it has to be done. Always one step ahead, an outstretched hand, always! Because otherwise we close off the only reasonable door to peace.
Sometimes some do not accept dialogue: too bad! But dialogue must always be done, at least offered, and this is good for those who offer it; it helps them to breathe.