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For Immediate Release From Vatican News!

(A Ten-Minute Read)

Pope Francis notes the anniversary of the beginning of the large-scale war in Ukraine, and pleads for a diplomatic solution aimed at “a just and lasting peace.” By Christopher Wells

Pope Francis lamented the deaths, injuries, destruction, anguish, and tears of the past two years since Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine – a period, he said, “that is becoming terribly long and whose end is not yet in sight.”

In remarks following the Sunday Angelus, the Pope warned that the war in Ukraine “is not only devastating the region of Europe, but unleashing a global wave of fear and hatred.”

While renewing his “vivid sympathy” and prayers for “the tormented Ukrainian people,” the Holy Father pleaded “for the recovery of that little bit of humanity that will allow the conditions for a diplomatic solution to be created in the search for a just and lasting peace.”

Pope Francis also urged people not to forget to pray for Palestine and Israel, and for the many people torn apart by the war, urging them to provide concrete assistance to those who are suffering, especially “the wounded, innocent children”.

Learn more HERE!: https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope/news/20...


Nuncio to Ukraine: Despite two years of death, hope and faith

In a wide-ranging interview with Vatican Media, the Apostolic Nuncio to Ukraine, Archbishop Visvaldas Kulbokas, reflects on two years since the full scale invasion of Ukraine by Russia. By Alessandro De Carolis

Fear persists, but apparently also faith to cling to, as well as the "grace" of being able to breathe occasionally, and the weariness of always rolling up our sleeves, while listening to those who "cannot understand how such a thing could happen in the 21st century."

In a wide-ranging interview, these are the sentiments conveyed by the Apostolic Nuncio in Ukraine, Archbishop Visvaldas Kulbokas, on the two-year anniversary of the full-scale invasion of Ukraine by Russia.

In the interview, the Nuncio discusses the deep contrasts of two years of war, and the feelings, needs, and pain of a country that has survived, despite mourning and destruction, inside a 'tunnel,' where, at the moment, the light of peace is invisible.

Two years after the start of the full-scale Russian aggression, what is the real situation in Ukraine?

Obviously, the situation is one of great suffering. There are several thousand prisoners, who live, or rather survive, often in inhumane conditions, at least judging by the accounts of those who have returned home. Every morning I begin my prayer in union with them and with the children separated from their parents or legal guardians because I know they are living a hell, and except for very rare exceptions, there is no way to help them. There are those who live in regions close to the front line, mostly elderly or poor people, who do not dare or do not have the physical strength to seek fortune elsewhere. Moreover, they depend completely on humanitarian aid, including water and bread. And there is a whole network of priests, charity workers, and volunteers who are committed to creating a logistical network for transportation, sometimes for thousands of kilometers.

There are millions of boys and girls from all the eastern regions, Kharkiv, Dnipro, Poltava, Zaporizhia, Kherson, who have not been able to go to school since the beginning of the Covid pandemic, that is, for four years they can study at most online. In some cities, underground schools are under construction, sheltered from frequent bombings.

Then there are the local collaborators of our Apostolic Nunciature in Kyiv, of whom every day I can never know if they will be able to come to work or not because during the very frequent alerts for air attacks, they remain blocked for hours wherever they are.

I myself notice that I have difficulty speaking for a long time with people who have not had the same experience: the impression is that we live in different worlds, where priorities are completely different. Not to mention the dead and the war wounded, the millions of displaced persons and refugees.

What news do you have about how people live in the areas where the conflict rages, in Kyiv, and in the westernmost parts of the country?

Those who live in cities near the front line, like Kherson, and also Kharkiv, are used to looking death directly in the eye. In this sense, Kyiv is in a more favorable situation because missile and drone attacks do not occur every day, and it has the "privilege" of a more robust anti-aircraft protection system. Having a moment of rest, even every other day, is a grace.

But closer to the front, people spend the minimum necessary time on the street, to go to church, receive supplies, and other urgent needs. A few days ago, I asked a Catholic priest from Kherson, "What do you miss the most?" He replied, "I miss having at least a few hours of silence, to walk calmly and to sleep."

What strikes you the most in the stories of those who return from the front?

I have been struck several times by what some soldiers have told me about prayer and faith during the most furious moments on the front. Here it is necessary to specify who the soldiers are: now everyone is a soldier, from the university lecturer to the specialist in new technologies, from the theater artist to the entrepreneur. Some of them show that they have a faith that even inspires me. More than once I have heard a testimony like this: "Throughout the time, under bombardment, in the trench, or in counterattack actions, I was praying continuously and felt Jesus by my side. Bullets and mines were whistling and exploding all around, but I remained alive."

Another category of stories that strikes me is that of ex-prisoners, provided they are still psychologically able to communicate with people. Here I will refrain from telling their stories because they are unspeakable and because I think it is better for them to tell them themselves when they can.

Do you see any glimmer of a possible diplomatic solution to end the ongoing conflict?

I would be happy to be wrong, but today personally I do not see any glimmers. But with the grace of God, everything can change in an instant, so our trust in the merciful Lord, when we pray, must be as full as possible. In any case, it should be noted that the most persistent attempts in this area come from that category of countries and international organizations that do not fully identify with any of the sides.

What role have the Churches played and are playing in supporting the population?

The support of the Churches is extremely important from a spiritual point of view. Such a fierce war arouses incredulity among people because they cannot understand how such a thing could begin in the 21st century. On the spiritual aspect, the military at the front and prisoners of war insist above all: for them, prayer is almost the only glimmer of hope they have.

There is a need to listen to people when they cannot understand how the Churches and the Holy See in particular fail to achieve the desired results with their respective initiatives. Many are convinced that "just a word from the Holy Father" would suffice to solve the difficulties. In dialogue with these people, we try to clarify that one can never be certain that certain humanitarian initiatives will bear immediate fruit.

Another area of action of the Churches is evidently that of humanitarian aid, and in this area, both the institutions of the Holy See with the Pontifical Almoner and the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, as well as international charitable organizations. Local Churches, both Catholic and non-Catholic, are active.

Then there is the area of childhood: I know numerous parishes that provide their air-raid shelters for kindergartens. Finally, there are Caritas, Eparchies, and other organizations that provide medical and psychological assistance to families and young people. Sometimes I happen to see some bishops distributing aid and food in person. They do not do it for visibility but simply because there are not enough hands for everything.

Learn more HERE!: https://www.vaticannews.va/en/church/news/...


Archbishop Pezzi on Ukraine: Each Horror Opposes Any Act of Goodness

Two years after the beginning of Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Archbishop Paolo Pezzi of the Archdiocese of the Mother of God at Moscow reflects on changing hearts to become artisans of peace. By Archbishop Paolo Pezzi

Not always does the memory of the anniversary of some event bring any novelty, often it is limited to a memory, to a recurrence, but without grasping or deepening its reflection in the present. This becomes more acute as a necessity when the event whose origin is being remembered is still ongoing.

I do not know what the feelings of people in Europe could have been on the occasion of the second anniversary of the outbreak of the first or second world war, what I see and hear here in Russia, exactly two years after that February 24, 2022, with the different ethnicities that make up the peoples of Russia and Ukraine, is a latent question of biblical flavor, which until now has had no answer: "how long?"

It must be said that the Catholic community in Russia is multi-ethnic and multicultural. This means concretely that an answer must be given to that question that takes into account, at least in our communities, the coexistence not only of Russians and Ukrainians, but also of Belarusians, Poles, Lithuanians, just to name a few neighboring countries.

Personally, I have dedicated a lot of space to dialogue on this painful wound in my pastoral visits to parishes. In the first months after the beginning of the conflict, we noticed a growing feeling of hatred, difficulty in forgiving, resentment, anger, and difficulty in resuming, in starting again. Then a certain resignation began to spread, a difficulty in making plans for the future, and some weariness. Our contribution has been to preach forgiveness and never to close the door to dialogue and encounter with the other, because as long as we meet and talk, we can always seek and, God willing, find solutions.

Today I think that the most beautiful thing we can offer is the humble certainty of being in this situation, in this circumstance in which we find ourselves because in this way we bring a seed of hope for everyone. When one "stands" with faith in Christ Jesus in a certain situation, perhaps not easy, then one becomes a home, where it is good to dwell, as I have seen in Azer in Syria, in a Trappist monastery.

Simply staying has become a source of hope even for others around the nuns to build oases of peace, dialogue, active charity among people, even of different ethnicities and religious beliefs.

In the time of waiting, looking forward to Christmas, I was greatly accompanied by reading a beautiful book by the psychiatrist Borgna on friendship. In particular, a quote from the diary of Etty Hillesum, I found it to be well descriptive of the situation we are experiencing, and indicative for discernment in view of that perspective of "standing to bring hope": "Life is a splendid and great thing, later we will have to build a completely new world. For every new crime or horror, we must oppose a fragment of love and goodness that we must conquer within ourselves. We can suffer, but we must not succumb."

The change of perspective comes from the surprise of a little piece of love and goodness that is expanding in our hearts. If the heart does not change, the world will hardly change: and indeed the heart of man is the world that becomes aware of itself: the wonderful skies of the north, the mountains and valleys of the Caucasus, the immense Siberian plains, but also the dramas of refugees, migrants, victims, people and environment, crimes and horrors become aware of existing in my heart, and they hurt it, they cannot leave it indifferent.

In this way, we become "artisans of peace", but of a divine peace, artisans of the only possible peace, that which comes from the Risen Christ, not a worldly peace.

Read the full article HERE!: https://www.vaticannews.va/en/church/news/...


Bambino Gesù, for two years caring for young Ukrainian patients fleeing from war
Since the full scale invasion of Ukraine by Russia exactly two years ago, approximately 2,500 minors from the attacked country have been treated at the Vatican's Bambino Gesu pediatric hospital.
By Salvatore Cernuzio

The first one arrived at the Palidoro headquarters on March 1, 2022. Not even a week had passed since the first bomb fell on Kyiv that the Bambino Gesù Hospital found itself having to pick up the pieces of a war that soon revealed its brutality. Starting with that child, who arrived in Italy by makeshift means to reach relatives and was accompanied to Palidoro by doctors from L'Aquila, there have been over 2,500 Ukrainian minors welcomed, assisted, and treated within its ancient walls, owned by the Holy See for a hundred years.

Two years of hospitalizations, surgeries, and specialized treatments
Two years of war, 730 days of visits, day hospital stays, surgeries, emergencies, hospitalizations in Neurosurgery or Cardiology, or even cutting-edge treatments such as Car-T cell therapy capable of sending the disease into remission. "The maximum of possible science" of which a 12-year-old Ukrainian, suffering from dermatomyositis, was among the first patients in Italy to benefit. Two years dealing with wounds, trauma, Covid-19, surgeries on small bodies mutilated by the Russian offensive.

All treatments that became difficult if not impossible to receive in the "tormented" country, where the population is forced to choose between food and medicine. Bambino Gesù immediately responded to the call launched by the European ERN Networks to offer diagnostic and therapeutic assistance to children with serious rare diseases even remotely. In the hospital, there is and will always be a place for Ukrainian children affected by rare and ultra-rare conditions reported gradually by the European network.

Read the full article HERE!: https://www.vaticannews.va/en/vatican-city...


Children Endure Dire Existence In Gaza

Since the start of the conflict in Gaza, thousands of children have been exposed to distressing events and trauma, marked by extensive destruction and displacement. By Nathan Morley

Northern Gaza is virtually cut off from civilization. Its people, estimated to number 300,000, have been reduced to a dire existence.

In the south, over a million people are jammed into every available space in and around Rafah.

Though more than 13,000 trucks transporting over 250,000 tons of humanitarian aid have entered the Gaza Strip since the start of the war, supplies of food, medicine, and other essentials remain low.

Over the course of this conflict, thousands of children have been injured and killed. Aid agencies report children reporting to hospitals with burns, open wounds, and other serious injuries. And through it all, children remain cut off from psychosocial care.

Diseases rising in children
In a recent bulletin, UNICEF reported cases of diarrhoea among toddlers are soaring, while cases of scabies, lice, chicken pox, skin rashes, and respiratory infections are also climbing among children.

Compounding matters, a steep rise in malnutrition among children and pregnant and breastfeeding women in the Gaza strip poses grave threats to their health, according to a comprehensive new analysis released by the Global Nutrition Cluster.

In a separate development, the Israeli war cabinet has been briefed on ceasefire negotiations in Paris which have reportedly led to an outline agreement on a pause in the Gaza fighting and on hostage releases.

Read or listen to the full article HERE!: https://www.vaticannews.va/en/world/news/2...


Pope: Education is an act of hope for a better society
In a message addressed to participants in a conference in Madrid on the Church’s commitment in education in Spain, Pope Francis highlights the importance for Catholic institutions to ensure that education is accessible to all.
By Lisa Zengarini

Pope Francis has reminded Spanish Catholic educators that the Church is called to promote an inclusive education, where all students can unleash their potential regardless of their background, recalling that this has always been an essential part of its educational mission.

“Education is, above all, an act of hope in those before us (…), in their possibilities to change and contribute to the renewal of society”, he said in a message he addressed on Saturday to participants in a conference organized in Madrid by the Spanish Bishops’ Conference (CEE) on the Church’s commitment in education.

The session concludes a four months’ process started in October 2023 in which bishops, experts and Catholic educators from across Spain have reflected and taken stock of the work done by the Church in Spain in the field of education.

Everyone has the right to education
In his message Pope Francis welcomed the initiative, and highlighted the importance for Catholic institutions to ensure that education is accessible to all: “Everyone has the right to education, no one should be excluded, “ he said.

“I cannot help but remember the many children and young people who do not have access to education in different parts of the world, who suffer oppression, and even war and violence.”

The Pope thus invited participants not to overlook “the new exclusions” produced by the modern “throwaway culture.”

“And never forget,” he added, “that the creation of relationships of justice among peoples, the capacity for solidarity towards the needy, and the care of the common home will pass through the hearts, minds, and hands of those who are being educated today.”

The distinctive feature of Catholic education is true humanization

Recalling that the distinctive feature of Catholic education in all areas “is true humanization” that “arises from faith and generates culture," Pope Francis went on to

Read the full article HERE!: https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope/news/20...

Posted By: agnes levine
Monday, February 26th 2024 at 11:43AM
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