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Pope Francis made a strong appeal for peace on Sunday calling modern warfare “a crime against humanity” that sows death among civilians and destroys cities.

Speaking at the end of his Angelus address on Jan. 14, the pope urged people to pray for all who are suffering due to “the cruelty of war,” especially in Ukraine, Palestine, and Israel.

“We pray that those who have power over these conflicts will reflect that war is not the way to resolve them because it sows death among civilians and destroys cities and infrastructure. In other words, war today is in itself a crime against humanity,” Pope Francis said.

“Let’s not forget this: War itself is a crime against humanity. People need peace. The world needs peace.”

The pope shared how he was moved by a testimony by a Franciscan priest in the Holy Land on a television program on Sunday morning.

He said that he had seen Father Ibrahim Faltas, an Egyptian priest who serves as vicar of the Custody of the Holy Land, speaking on the Italian television show “A Sua Immagine” (“In His image”) about the importance of “education for peace.”

Pope Francis added that all of humanity is in need of “an education to stop every war.”

“Let us always pray for this grace: to educate for peace,” he said.

During his Angelus address, the 87-year-old pope appeared energetic and read his entire speech without assistance — two days after saying in one of his audiences late last week that he had “a bit of bronchitis.”

In his reflection on Sunday’s Gospel, the pope spoke about Jesus’ first encounter with his disciples and encouraged everyone to try to think of when they had their first personal encounter with the Lord.

“Each one of us has had a first encounter with Jesus — as a child, as an adolescent, as a young person, as an adult,” he said. “When did I encounter Jesus for the first time? Try to remember this.”

“And after this thought, this memory, renew the joy of following him and to ask ourselves … What does it mean to be a disciple of Jesus?”

Pope Francis underlined that being a disciple of Jesus requires three things: “to seek Jesus, to remain with Jesus, and to proclaim Jesus.”

“In short, faith is not a theory; it is an encounter,” he said.

“And let us ask ourselves: Are we still disciples in love with the Lord? Do we seek the Lord or do we settle into a faith made up of habits? Do we stay with him in prayer? Do we know how to stay in silence with him? … And then, do we feel the desire to share, to proclaim this beauty of encountering the Lord?”

“May Mary Most Holy, the first disciple of Jesus, give us the desire to seek him, the desire to stay with him, and the desire to proclaim him,” Pope Francis said.

By Courtney Mares

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