It was the first large gathering for the May 13 anniversary since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as since Pope Francis consecrated Russia and Ukraine to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
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The Pope suggested that efforts to improve relations between Christians in the 20th century were motivated partly by the horror of two world wars.
The Holy See Press Office said the two also spoke of ‘the war in Ukraine, stressing the urgency of dialogue and peace and expressing the hope, to this end, for a world free of nuclear weapons.’
‘What about us, do we want to love Jesus?’ the Pope asked May 1, praying, ‘May Our Lady, who readily said ‘Yes’ to the Lord, help us to rediscover the enthusiasm to do good.’ He also prayed for Ukraine, imploring that peace prevail.
The Holy Father expressed gratitude in a meeting at the Vatican on Thursday.
Under three titles for one icon, Our Lady is revered by both Ukrainians and Russians, and several other countries, too, who know her by another title.
For Christians in Ukraine, it has been a long Lent and a difficult Easter.
‘Christ is risen; he is truly risen! May he fill with hope the good expectations of hearts. May he grant peace, outraged by the barbarity of war,’ the Holy Father said April 24, appealing for an Easter truce.
‘In the eyes of our brothers and sisters, victims of the horrors of war, we read the profound and pressing need for a life marked by dignity, peace and love,’ the Holy Father said on Easter Saturday.