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Pope Appeals for Peace in Ukraine

Pope Francis appealed for peace in Ukraine following his Sunday Angelus address in St. Peter's Square today. The appeal comes after a rocket attack in the city of Mariupol left 30 people dead.

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) has stated that the rockets were launched from rebel-occupied territories, though pro-Russian rebels have denied carrying out the attack.

The Holy Father expressed his "deep concern" over the escalating violence which, he said, "continues to cause many casualties among the civilian population."

"As I assure you of my prayers for all who suffer, I renew a heartfelt appeal so that efforts for dialogue can resume and an end to all hostilities," the Pope said.

The Thirst for Unity

In his address, the Holy Father reflected on Sunday's Gospel, which recounted the beginning of Jesus' ministry in Galilee. Recalling the announcement that the Kingdom of God is at hand, the Pope highlighted that Jesus is the fulfillment of the divine promise.

Recalling the story of Jesus' encounter with the Samaritan woman at Jacob's well, Pope Francis said that Christ is "the 'living water' that quenches our restless heart that thirsts for life, love, freedom, peace: that thirsts for God."

The Gospel passage is the theme of the "Week of Prayer for Christian Unity", which concludes this evening in Rome. The Pope will preside over an Evening Prayer service at the Basilica of St. Paul. Commenting on the annual event, the Holy Father stressed the need for unity among Christians.

"It is an ugly thing that Christians are divided. But Jesus wants us to be united. One body! Our sins, our history have divided us. For this, we must pray that the Spirit unites us again," he said.

The desire for unity, the Pope went on to say, can be found expressed by Christ before the Passion, in which Jesus prays that "they all may be one."

"That is what Jesus wanted," the Pope said," the unity of all. The devil, as we know, is the father of division. He is one that always divides, always makes war and does so much evil."

"May Jesus' thirst increasingly become our thirst! We continue, therefore, to pray and strive for the full unity of the Disciples of Christ, in the certainty that He Himself is at our side and sustains us with the strength of His Spirit so that this goal can be reached."

Before reciting the Angelus prayer with the faithful, the Holy Father entrusted the unity of Christians to the Blessed Virgin Mary so that "She, like a good Mother, may unite us."

Junno Arocho Esteves

On ZENIT's website:

For the full translation of the Holy Father's address, go to: 

http://www.zenit.org/en/articles/angelus-address-on-the-thirst-for-unity

(January 25, 2015) © Innovative Media Inc.

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