‘With a heart broken,’ pope prays for peace in Ukraine

People wear the national colors of Ukraine as Pope Francis leads the Angelus from the window of his studio overlooking St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican Feb. 27, 2022. (CNS photo/Vatican Media)

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Francis said his heart was “broken” by the war in Ukraine, and he pleaded again, “Silence the weapons!”

“Many times, we prayed that this path would not be taken,” he told people gathered in St. Peter’s Square for the midday recitation of the Angelus prayer Feb. 27. But rather than giving up, he said, “we beg God more intensely.”

With many of the people in the square holding Ukrainian flags, Pope Francis greeted them the way they traditionally greet each other, “Slava Isusu Chrystu,” meaning, “Glory to Jesus Christ.”

Pope Francis has continued to personally express his concern about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and to appeal for peace. The previous evening, he phoned Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

The Vatican press office confirmed the call Feb. 26 but provided no details.

Zelenskyy tweeted that he had thanked Pope Francis “for praying for peace in Ukraine and a cease-fire. The Ukrainian people feel the spiritual support of His Holiness.”

The Ukrainian Embassy to the Holy See tweeted, “The Holy Father expressed his deepest sorrow for the tragic events happening in our country.”

The call to Zelenskyy came a day after Pope Francis made the diplomatically unusual gesture of going to the Russian Embassy to the Holy See to express his concern about the war. Usually, a head of state would have an ambassador come to him.

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