Addressing thousands of pilgrims in Saint Peter's Square during his weekly Sunday Angelus address, Pope Francis called for peace in Ukraine and Lesotho. After the recitation of the Angelus, the Holy Father expressed his hope that, despite recent acts of violence in the region, the people of Ukraine might find relief amid the ongoing conflict. He prayed for the continuation of dialogue as efforts are made to bring about lasting peace. At least 2,600 have been killed in Ukraine since fighting began in April between Ukrainian forces and pro-Russian separatists. Most recently, one woman was killed in shelling in Mariupol on Saturday, while Donetsk airport was attacked on Sunday morning, raising fears that a ceasefire, which began on Friday, may be breaking down. The Pope also responded to the appeal for peace made by the bishops of the African country of Lesotho. Unrest began in the small Southern African country at the end of August when the military ceased control of the country's police in what has been described as a coup. “I condemn every act of violence,” he said, “and pray to Our Lord that peace, rooted in justice and brotherhood, can be restored in the Kingdom of Lesotho.” The Holy Father also made mention of a mission to Iraqi Kurdistan by a Italian Red Cross volunteers, who will travel to the region to offer help and support to the thousands of people displaced by Islamic militants' take-over of the country. The Pope praised the work of the volunteers who are bringing aid to “our persecuted and oppressed brothers and sisters” in Iraq. Addressing the crowds before the recitation of the Angelus, Pope Francis reflected on the Gospel reading from the day, focusing on the theme of fraternal correction within Christian communities, and the need for reproach that is, above all, rooted in charity. “The Lord asks the community to accompany those who make mistakes, in order that they are not lost,” the Pope said. Any wrongdoing should be confronted with gentleness, prudence, and humility, he said, adding that words that can “injure or kill” the offender ought to be avoided. “Even words kill!” he said. “When I speak ill [of someone], when I make an unjust criticism... this is killing the reputation of another!” In the Gospel, Jesus teaches that one must first go to the offending person alone, then with two or three persons, only bringing involving the community in the dispute as a last resort. The aim of this approach, the Pope said, is to help make the person aware of his wrongdoing, and that his sin “has offended not only one, but many.” However, he added that this approach is also meant “to help us free ourselves from anger or resentment, which only cause evil: that bitterness of the heart that carries anger and resentment,” which in turn causes us to “insult and aggravate.” He said it is a “very ugly” thing to witness “an insult or attack” from the mouth of a Christian. “It is ugly! Do you understand? Never insult! To insult is not Christian! Do you understand? To insult is not Christian!” Recalling how Jesus commanded us not to judge, the Pope said that “before God, we are all sinners, and we need forgiveness. Everyone!” “Brotherly correction is an characteristic of love and communion which must reign in the Christian community,” the Holy Father said. However, such correction is only possible, and efficacious, so long as “everyone recalls that we are sinners and that we need the Lord's forgiveness.”
This same awareness which “makes me to recognize the sins in others,” he continued, is the same which “reminds me that I have sinned, and sinned many times.” The Pope continued, saying this is why we ask the Lord for mercy at the beginning of every Mass. “Have mercy on me, Lord. I am a sinner! I confess, Almighty God, my sins.” He added that before entering Mass, there are two things we must always remember: that we are sinners, and that God always grants us mercy. Concluding his address before beginning the Angelus prayer, Pope Francis invoked the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, recalling that the feast of her nativity will be celebrated Monday, September 8.