Pope Breaks Down Over 'a Defeat for Humanity'

During prayer in Rome, pontiff cries about 'enormous suffering' brought by war in Ukraine
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Dec 9, 2022 11:48 AM CST
Pope Breaks Down During Prayer Over War in Ukraine
Pope Francis becomes emotional in Rome on Thursday.   (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

Pope Francis cried Thursday in the center of Rome as he prayed for peace in Ukraine. Francis leaned over and choked up, unable to speak precisely as he arrived at the part of the prayer where he said, "I would have liked to have brought you the thanks of the Ukrainian people...." As the crowd of thousands of dignitaries, clergy, and ordinary Romans realized that the pope was overcome with emotion, they broke into applause and encouraged him to continue, per the AP. (Watch it here.)

After a long pause that Reuters notes lasted about 30 seconds, Francis continued the prayer, picking up from where he left off: "...the Ukrainian people for the peace we have so long asked the Lord. Instead I must present you with the pleas of children, elderly, mothers and fathers, and the young people of that martyred land, that is suffering so much.” The moment came during the pope's annual visit to the Spanish Steps, which falls on the Dec. 8 feast day dedicated to Mary, the mother of Jesus. The event marks the unofficial start of the Christmas season in Italy.

Reuters reports that the day before, the pontiff had compared the Russian invasion in Ukraine to a Nazi operation in the first few years of World War II that slaughtered 2 million people, who were mostly Jewish. "History is repeating itself," he told his weekly general audience, which included Polish pilgrims. "We see now what is happening in Ukraine." After his emotional follow-up on Thursday, a reporter brought up the moving moment, to which Francis replied, "Yes. It [the war in Ukraine] is an enormous suffering, enormous. A defeat for humanity." (Read more Pope Francis stories.)

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