Pope Francis holds a flag that he received from Bucha, Ukraine on April 6, 2022. Pope Francis holds a flag that he received from Bucha, Ukraine at his general audience on April 6, 2022. | Vatican Media
Pope Francis lamented the “impotence” of the United Nations in the face of the Ukraine war in comments made during his general audience on Wednesday.
“Today we often hear about ‘geopolitics.’ But unfortunately, the dominant logic is the strategies of the most powerful countries to affirm their own interests, extending their area of economic influence, or ideological influence, and/or military influence. We are seeing this with the war,” the pope said on April 6.
“After World War II, the attempt was made to lay the foundations of a new era of peace. But, unfortunately – we never learn, right? – the old story of competition between the greater powers went on,” Francis said in the Vatican’s Paul VI Hall.
“And, in the current war in Ukraine, we are witnessing the impotence of the Organizations of the United Nations.”
The pope’s comments came one day after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy addressed the UN via a video link and accused the Russian military of war crimes. The Ukrainian president also expressed frustration at the UN Security Council, of which Russia is a permanent member with veto-power.
“Where is the security that the Security Council needs to guarantee? It’s not there,” Zelenskyy said, speaking via a translator.
“It is obvious that the key institution of the world — which must ensure the coercion of any aggressor to peace — simply cannot work effectively,” the Ukrainian president said on April 5.
The pope added that he views Malta as representing “the rights and power of the ‘small’ nations.”
“Small but rich in history and civilization that should lead toward another logic – that of respect and freedom – the logic of respect and also the logic of freedom, of the coexistence of differences, opposed to the colonization of the most powerful,” he said.
The pope explained that he chose a quote from the Acts of the Apostles as the motto for his papal trip to Malta, “They showed us unusual kindness,” because of both the migrant crisis and also “so that the world might become more fraternal, more livable.”
Pope Francis highlighted the migration issue during his trip to the Mediterranean island by visiting an immigration reception centre founded by a Franciscan priest called the John XIII Peace Lab.
“I met numerous migrants who landed on the island after terrible journeys,” the pope recalled.
“We must never tire of listening to their testimonies because only this way can we emerge from a distorted vision that is often circulated in the mass media, and the faces, the stories, the wounds, the dreams and the hopes of these migrants can emerge.”
The pope underlined that every migrant should not be viewed as “a number” but as a person.
“Each is unique just like each one of us. Every migrant is a person with dignity, with roots, with a culture. Each of them is the bearer of a wealth infinitely greater than the problems they bring,” he said.
“Certainly, welcoming them must be organized – this is true – and supervised; and first, long before, it must be planned together, at an international level,” Pope Francis added.
He said that migration is “a sign of our times” and it “should be read and interpreted as such.”
Reflecting on his first apostolic journey of 2022, the pope said that he made the trip to Malta “above all” as an act of gratitude to God and to confirm the Maltese people in the faith.
“Malta is the key-place from the perspective of evangelization,” he said. “From Malta and from Gozo, the country’s two dioceses, many priests and religious, but even lay faithful, left to bring their Christian witness all over the world.”
“Nevertheless, the wind of secularism, of a globalized pseudo-culture based on consumerism, neo capitalism and relativism, blows there as well. Therefore, it is time for the new evangelization there too,” he added.
The pope described his time of prayer in Malta’s Grotto of Saint Paul as like “drawing from the spring so that the Gospel might flow through Malta with the freshness of its origins and revive its great heritage of popular religiosity.”
He added that when he visited the country’s Basilica of the National Shrine of the Blessed Virgin of Ta’ Pinu, he heard “the heart of the Maltese people beat.”
“Mary helps us to revive the flame of faith by drawing from the Holy Spirit’s flame that attracts generation after generation to the joyful proclamation of the Gospel, for the joy of the Church is to evangelize,” Pope Francis said.