With massive civilian deaths and the destruction of cities and their infrastructure, modern "war is in itself a crime against humanity," Pope Francis said.
After reciting the Angelus prayer with an estimated 10,000 visitors in St. Peter's Square Jan. 14, the pope urged people to remember "those who suffer the cruelty of war in so many parts of the world, especially in Ukraine, Palestine and Israel."
"At the beginning of the year," he said, "we exchanged wishes of peace, but weapons continue to kill and destroy."
Pope Francis prayed that the leaders of warring parties would reflect on the fact that war is not the way to resolve problems "because it sows death among civilians and destroys cities and infrastructure."
"In other words," he said, "today war is in itself a crime against humanity."
The pope repeated himself, saying, "Let us not forget this: war is in itself a crime against humanity. People need peace! The world needs peace!"
In his main Angelus address, Pope Francis reflected on the Sunday Gospel reading, St. John's narration of Jesus calling his first disciples.
Jesus asks them, "What are you looking for?"
The question, the pope said, invites them to share the deepest desires of their hearts.
"He does not want to gain superficial 'followers,'" he said. "The Lord wants people who question themselves and let themselves be challenged by his word."
The day's Gospel reading, the pope said, makes it clear that discipleship means "to seek Jesus, to stay with Jesus and to proclaim Jesus. To seek, to stay, to proclaim."
The disciples' first encounter with Jesus was "such a powerful experience that the two disciples always remembered the time," he said, noting that the Gospel of John says, "it was about four in the afternoon."
Christians today should value and savor their experience of having met the Lord, too, he said.
Pope Francis encouraged people to reflect on their own experience, asking themselves: "When did I encounter the Lord? When did the Lord touch my heart?"
"And let us ask ourselves: Are we still disciples, enamored of the Lord? Do we seek the Lord, or have we settled into a faith made up of habits? Do we stay with him in prayer, do we know how to stay in silence with him?" the pope continued.
But, he said, people also need to consider if they take the next step "to share, to proclaim this beauty of the encounter with the Lord.''