Pope Francis has joined the United Nations’ calls for a global ceasefire in the face of the new coronavirus pandemic.
“In these past days, the secretary general of the United Nations launched an appeal for an ‘immediate global ceasefire in all corners of the world’, invoking the current COVID-19 crisis, which does not recognize borders. An appeal for a total ceasefire,” Pope Francis said during his Angelus prayer on March 29.
“I myself join those who have welcomed this appeal and I invite everyone to follow it up by ceasing any form of hostility, promoting the creation of humanitarian aid routes, openness to diplomacy, and attentiveness to those who find themselves in situations of grave vulnerability,” he said.
The pope expressed his hope that the “joint fight against the pandemic” would help everyone recognize “the great need to reinforce brotherly and sisterly bonds as members of one human family.”
“In particular, may it inspire a renewed commitment to overcome rivalries in the leaders of nations and those parties involved. Conflicts are not resolved through war!” the pope said.
“Antagonism and differences must be overcome through dialogue and a constructive search for peace,” he said.
“In this moment my thoughts turn in a special way to all those people who suffer the vulnerability of being compelled to live in a group: Rest homes, barracks… In particular, I would like to mention those in prison.”
“I read an official note of the Commission for Human Rights which talks about the problem of overcrowded prisons, which could become a tragedy,” he said. “I ask the authorities to be sensitive to this serious problem and to take the necessary measures to avoid future tragedies.”
On March 23, UN Secretary-General António Guterres released a statement urging warring parties worldwide “to lay down their weapons in support of the bigger battle against the new coronavirus,” which he called “the common enemy that is now threatening all of humankind.”
“The fury of the virus illustrates the folly of war,” he said.
“That is why today, I am calling for an immediate global ceasefire in all corners of the world. It is time to put armed conflict on lockdown and focus together on the true fight of our lives.”