Francis attended the screening of a documentary on the first hours of the war, and offered this spontaneous prayer.
“Let’s look at Ukraine, let’s pray for Ukraine, and let’s open our hearts to the pain,” Pope Francis said at the end of a film screening at the Vatican on February 24, 2023, on the Ukrainian conflict, one year after the start of the Russian invasion.
The Pontiff denounced the “spirit of war” that pushes to “destroy, not to let grow, to destroy everyone — men, women, children, the elderly, everyone.”
About 250 people, refugees and members of the Ukrainian community, poor people from the Diocese of Rome, and members of associations, accompanied by Cardinal Konrad Krajewski, chaplain to the Pontiff, attended the screening of the film Freedom on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom, by Evgeny Afineevsky.
His new documentary, presented at the Venice Film Festival last September, focuses on the beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. These first hours are told from the point of view of ordinary Ukrainian civilians.
Pope Francis attended the screening from the back row of the room, and at the end, addressed the audience in a spontaneous way. He prayed that God would make people understand that “war is destruction, war always diminishes us.”
He then improvised a brief prayer:
“Holy Father, who art in heaven,
Look at our miseries,
Look at our wounds,
Look at our pain,
Look also at our selfishness, our vile interests and the capacity we have to destroy ourselves.
Heal, heal our hearts, heal our minds, heal our eyes
That they may see the beauty you have made
And not destroy it in selfishness.
Sow in us the seed of peace.
Vatican News, the only media present besides a Ukrainian television station, recounted the exchanges between the Pontiff and the various Ukrainian refugees present. A Ukrainian journalist urged the Holy Father to help with the release of the prisoners and to come to Ukraine.