Expressing great sadness at the worsening situation in Ukraine, Pope Francis asked world leaders on Wednesday to “make a serious examination of conscience before God.”
Speaking at his live-streamed general audience on Feb. 23, the pope called for people to fast for peace on March 2, Ash Wednesday, praying that “the Queen of Peace will preserve the world from the madness of war.”
“I have great pain in my heart over the worsening situation in Ukraine,” Pope Francis said in the Vatican’s Paul VI Hall.
My heart aches greatly at the worsening situation in Ukraine. Despite the diplomatic efforts of the last few weeks, increasingly alarming scenarios are opening up. Like me, many people all over the world are feeling anguish and concern. Once again the peace of all is threatened by partisan interests. I would like to appeal to those with political responsibility to examine their consciences seriously before God, who is the God of peace and not of war; who is the Father of all, not just of some, who wants us to be brothers and not enemies. I pray that all the parties involved refrain from any action that would cause even more suffering to the people, destabilizing coexistence between nations and bringing international law into disrepute.
And now I would like to appeal to everyone, believers and non-believers alike. Jesus taught us that the diabolical senselessness of violence is answered with God’s weapons, with prayer and fasting. I invite everyone to make next 2 March, Ash Wednesday, a Day of Fasting for Peace. I encourage believers in a special way to dedicate themselves intensely to prayer and fasting on that day. May the Queen of Peace preserve the world from the madness of war.