VATICAN CITY — The only reasonable way to address the suffering of Ukrainians is to stop fighting and negotiate, Pope Francis said.
Even during his busy six-day journey to Canada, “I did not cease praying for the suffering and battered Ukrainian people, asking God to free them from the scourge of war,” the pope said after praying the Angelus with visitors in St. Peter’s Square July 31.
“If one looked at what is happening objectively, considering the harm that war brings every day to those people, and even to the entire world, the only reasonable thing to do would be to stop and negotiate,” the pope said.
“May wisdom inspire concrete steps toward peace,” he said.
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has said that Ukraine will negotiate with Russia when its nation’s forces have succeeded in fighting the Russian army back to where it was positioned Feb. 24, the day Russian President Vladimir Putin launched an invasion of Ukraine.
Putin has said the possibility of negotiations would become more remote the longer the conflict continued.
Russia has claimed the conflict is a proxy war being waged against Russia by “the West.”
Unbridled greed for wealth and possessions is a sickness that is the driving force behind wars and conflicts in the world, Pope Francis said July 31.
The “hunger for possessions creates an addiction” that enslaves people and ultimately causes “an injustice never before seen in history: where few have so much and so many have little or nothing,” the pope said.
“Let’s consider wars and conflicts as well. The lust for resources and wealth are almost always behind them. How many interests are behind war! Certainly, one of these is the arms trade. This trade is a scandal that we must never resign ourselves to,” he said.
Before praying the Angelus prayer, the pope reflected on the Sunday Gospel reading from St. Luke in which Jesus warns a person quarreling over an inheritance to “take care to guard against all greed, for though one may be rich, one’s life does not consist of possessions.”
The incessant desire to be rich, he said, “is an illness that destroys people” because “those who have a lot are never content; they always want more and only for themselves.”
“Jesus teaches us that at the heart of all this are not only some who are powerful, or certain economic systems. The greed that is in everyone’s heart is at the center,” the pope said.
Christians, he continued, must reflect on their relationship with money and ask themselves whether they are happy with what they have or complain about not having enough.
However, Jesus’ warning does not mean “no one should desire to be rich.” In fact, “you can” and it is even “right to want it.”
“It is beautiful to be rich, but rich according to God! God is the richest of anyone. He is rich in compassion, in mercy. His riches do not impoverish anyone, do not create quarrels and divisions. It is a wealth that knows how to give, to distribute, to share,” the pope said.