Pope Francis is pictured during his weekly Angelus prayer Aug. 24 from the window of his office in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican. The pope prayed for peace and marked Ukrainian Independence Day. CNS photo/Claudio Peri, EPA

Pope Francis marks Ukrainian Independence Day, prays for peace

By  Francis X. Rocca, Catholic News Service
  • August 25, 2014

VATICAN CITY - Pope Francis lamented "tension and conflict" in Ukraine and prayed for "peace and tranquility" there on the country's Independence Day.

The pope made his remarks Aug. 24, after praying the Angelus with a crowd in St. Peter's Square.

"My thoughts go in a particular way to the beloved land of Ukraine," he said, "to all its sons and daughters, to their yearning for peace and tranquility, threatened by a situation of tension and conflict that continues unabated, causing so much suffering among the population."

Fighting between pro-Russian separatists and Ukrainian government forces continues in the eastern part of the country, having killed more than 2,000 and displaced more than 30,000 over the past several months.

"Let us entrust the whole nation to the Lord Jesus and to the Madonna, and let us pray together above all for the victims, their families, and all those who suffer," the pope said.

In an off-the-cuff addition to his prepared remarks, Pope Francis mentioned a letter he had received from a Ukrainian bishop, recounting "all the pain" of the people there.

"Let us pray together to the Madonna for this beloved land of Ukraine, on its Independence Day," he said, then led the crowd in reciting the Hail Mary.

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