'Let the weapons be put down! Let the Easter truce begin' says Pope Francis at Palm Sunday mass
Pope Francis has used his Palm Sunday address to call for a permanent truce in the war between Russia and Ukraine.
“Let the weapons be put down! Let the Easter truce begin,” Francis said. “But not to provide more weapons and pick up the combat again – no! – a truce that will lead to peace, through real negotiation.”
It was the first public Palm Sunday liturgy Pope Francis has held in St. Peter’s Square in two years – since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mass began with a large procession of cardinals, bishops, priests, deacons and laypeople, carrying palms into St. Peter’s Square. The procession circled the obelisk*, waving customary olive tree branches, palm fronds, and ‘parmureli’ – large, woven palm fronds – which Francis had blessed.
There were 65,000 people in attendance at the mass to mark the beginning of Holy Week. The papal leader delivered a homily contrasting the criminal’s words encouraging Jesus, “Save yourself!” (Luke 23.39), and his chosen response, “Father forgive them, for they do not know what they do” (Luke 23.34).
The Pope told attendees, “When we resort to violence, we show that we no longer know anything about God, who is our Father, or even about others, who are our brothers and sisters. We lose sight of why we are in the world and even end up committing senseless acts of cruelty.”
“We see this in the folly of war, where Christ is crucified yet another time. Christ is once more nailed to the Cross in mothers who mourn the unjust death of husbands and sons. He is crucified in refugees who flee from bombs with children in their arms. He is crucified in the elderly left alone to die; in young people deprived of a future; in soldiers sent to kill their brothers and sisters. Christ is being crucified there, today,” he said.
‘Christ is crucified in refugees who flee from bombs with children in their arms.” – Pope Francis
At the mass’s conclusion, before he led attendees in praying the Angelus**, Francis specifically addressed the war in Ukraine.
“Nothing is impossible for God. He can even bring an end to a war whose end is not in sight, a war that daily places before our eyes heinous massacres and atrocious cruelty committed against defenceless civilians,” Francis said.
“We are in the days preceding Easter. We are preparing to celebrate the victory of the Lord Jesus Christ over sin and death – over sin and death – not over someone and against someone else. But today, there is a war … Christ bore his cross to free us from the dominion of evil. He died so that life, love, peace might reign.”
* The obelisk is a tall, four-sided, narrow tapering Egyptian monument with a pyramid shape on top.
** The Angelus is a Catholic devotion, said three times each day: at dawn, noon, and dusk. It encourages those who pray it to meditate on the mystery of the message that the angel Gabriel announced to Mary (the Annunciation) that Christ would be born as a human (the Incarnation).