Pope Francis, who compared the current world situation to the Cuban missile crisis 60 years ago, led an appeal for peace on Tuesday for politicians to avoid the threat of nuclear war for Ukraine joined by religious leaders from around the world.
Francis presided over the closing ceremony at the Colosseum in Rome of a three-day conference organized by Italy’s Community of Sant’Egidio, a global peace and charity group.
In his address to several thousand people, delivered after various religious groups prayed separately, Francis denounced the “current gloomy scenario, in which, unfortunately, the plans of world leaders do not take into account the just aspirations of the towns”.
Referring to the possibility of the use of nuclear weapons in Ukraine, Francis said: “Today, in fact, we are threatened by something that we feared and hoped we would never hear again: the use of atomic weapons, which even after Hiroshima and Nagasaki continued to be produced and testing wrongly.”
Francis recalled how on October 25, 1962, in the midst of the Cuban missile crisis, Pope John XXIII issued a radio message in which he appealed to the leaders of the time to pull the world out of the abyss.
“Today peace has been seriously violated, attacked and trampled on, and this in Europe, on the same continent that in the last century endured the horrors of two world wars,” Francis said.
The closing ceremony was attended by Christians, Jews, Muslims, Sikhs, Buddhists and representatives of other religions.
The final appeal of the meeting, read by a Syrian refugee, called for a ban on the production of nuclear weapons.