Pope urges peace in ‘senseless and tragic war’ in Ukraine

Pope Francis arrived in Kazakhstan on September 13, urging dialogue and peace in the face of Russia’s “senseless and tragic war” in Ukraine.

Sep 23, 2022

An 82-year-old resident of Chuguiv, east of the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv, reacts to the destruction caused by Russian shelling. (Vatican News photo)

NUR-SULTAN, Kazakhstan:
Pope Francis arrived in Kazakhstan on September 13, urging dialogue and peace in the face of Russia’s “senseless and tragic war” in Ukraine.

In a speech to Kazakh civil authorities and diplomats in the capital city of Nur-Sultan, the Pope said he wanted to “echo the plea of all those who cry out for peace.”

“I have come here as a pilgrim of peace, seeking dialogue and unity. Our world urgently needs peace: it needs to recover harmony,” Pope Francis said from the stage of the Qazaq Concert Hall.
“Kazakhstan represents a significant geopolitical crossroads, and so it has a fundamental role to play in lessening cases of conflict,” he said.

Russia’s war in Ukraine has loomed in the background of Pope Francis’ trip to the Central Asian country of Kazakhstan, a Muslim-majority country located between Russia and China.

Kazakhstan and Russia share a 4,750-mile border, and the former Soviet country has historically been regarded as Moscow’s greatest ally after Belarus.

Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev has tried to balance the country’s relationship with Moscow with openness to the West.

Pope Francis met with Tokayev at the Presidential Palace in Nur-Sultan before addressing the country’s politicians and diplomats.

“Those who hold greater power in the world have greater responsibility with regard to others, especially those countries most prone to unrest and conflict,” Pope Francis said in his first public speech of the three-day visit to the Kazakh capital.

“Now is the time to stop intensifying rivalries and reinforcing opposing blocs. We need leaders who, on the international level, can enable peoples to grow in mutual understanding and dialogue. For this to happen, what is needed is understanding, patience, and dialogue with all. I repeat: with all,” he said.

“How can we fail to recall, in particular, the prison camps and the mass deportations that we witnessed, in the cities and in the boundless steppes of these regions, the oppression of so many peoples?” Pope Francis said.

“In this land, traversed from ancient times by great displacements of peoples, may the memory of the sufferings and trials you endured be an indispensable part of your journey towards the future, inspiring you to give absolute priority to human dignity, the dignity of every man and woman, and of every ethnic, social, and religious group,” he said. --CNA

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