On Wednesday, February 23, during his General Audience in the Vatican, Pope Francis made an anguished and energetic plea for peace. Even before the Russian invasion of the Ukraine (which began at about 6:00 am on Thursday), the Pope begged for an immediate cessation of this war.
Pope Francis stated very clearly:
I would like to appeal to those with political responsibility to examine their consciences seriously before God, who is the God of peace and not of war; who is the Father of all, not just of some, who wants us to be brothers and not enemies. I pray that all the parties involved refrain from any action that would cause even more suffering to the people, destabilising coexistence between nations and bringing international law into disrepute.
Furthermore, the Pope called upon believers and and non-believers to make next Wednesday, Ash Wednesday, a day of fasting and prayer for peace:
Now I would like to appeal to everyone, believers and non-believers alike. Jesus taught us that the diabolical senselessness of violence is answered with God’s weapons, with prayer and fasting. I invite everyone to make next 2 March, Ash Wednesday, a Day of Fasting for Peace. I encourage believers in a special way to dedicate themselves intensely to prayer and fasting on that day. May the Queen of Peace preserve the world from the madness of war.