Pope Francis has renewed his “heartbroken appeal” for prayer and dialogue in order to resolve the crisis in the Ukraine.
According to a translation by Zenit, Pope Francis made the appeal this morning during his General Audience. He said: “Once again my thought goes to the beloved Ukranian people. Unfortunately, the situation is worsening and the opposition between the sides is getting graver. We pray, first of all, for the victims, among whom there are many civilians, and for their families, and we pray to the Lord that this horrible fratricidal violence will end soonest. I renew my heartbroken appeal that every effort be made – also at the international level – for the resumption of dialogue, the only possible way to bring about peace and concord in that martyred land.”
He added: “Brothers and sisters, when I hear the words ‘victory’ or ‘defeat’, I feel a great pain, a great sadness in my heart. They are not the right words. The only right word is peace! This is the only right word! I think of you, brothers and sisters of Ukraine. But think about this, this is a war among Christians! You have your Baptism, you are fighting among Christian! Thinks about this, this scandal! And let us pray so that prayer may be our protest in front of God in times of war.”
Pope Francis also reflected on the importance of fathers, reminding his audience that “families need fathers”. He said that the definition of a good father is one who is able to “wait and to forgive from the depth of his heart. Of course, he is also able to correct with firmness: he is not a weak, compliant and sentimental father. The father who is able to correct without discouraging is the same one who is able to protect tirelessly.”
He continued: “One time, I heard a father, in a meeting with married couples, say: ‘I, sometimes, must hit my child a little, but never in the face, to not degrade him.’ How beautiful! He knows the sense of dignity! He must punish but does it justly and moves forward.”
Pope Francis said that fathers must be present in their families and “that he be close to his wife, to share everything – joys and sorrows, efforts and hopes. And that he be close to the children in their growth: when they play and when they are busy, when they are carefree and when they are anguished, when they express themselves and when they are silent, when they risk and when they are afraid, when they take a wrong step and when they find the way again.
“A father that is present, always! But to be present is not the same as controlling. Because fathers who are too controlling override the children, they do not let them grow.”