The 86-year-old also warned that the 10-month conflict was exacerbating food shortages around the world, calling for an end to the use of “food as a weapon”.
The head of the Catholic Church addressed the thousands of believers gathered in St. Peter’s Square, some of them holding Ukrainian flags, before giving the blessing “Urbi et Orbi” (“to the city and the world”).
Since Russia invaded Ukraine in February, it has repeatedly called for peace, condemning the war but trying to maintain a delicate dialogue with Moscow.
In his speech from the central balcony of San Pedro, he recalled “the Christmas our Ukrainian brothers and sisters are living in the dark and cold, far from their homes”.
“May God encourage us to offer specific gestures of solidarity to help all those who are suffering, and may he enlighten the will of those who have the power to silence the thunder of arms and end this senseless war immediately!”
“Tragically, we prefer to heed other advice, dictated by global mindsets”, he added, and recalled “sadly” that “the icy wind of war continues to hit humanity”.
“Our time is suffering from a severe famine of peace in other regions and theaters of this third world war as well,” he said.
He mentioned many countries that are having difficulties this Christmas, due to conflict and other crises, from Afghanistan to Yemen, Syria, Myanmar, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Lebanon and Haiti.
For the first time, he also called for “reconciliation” in Iran, which has been rocked by women-led protests for the past three months.
The Pope also asked those celebrating Christmas to “remember all those who go hungry every day while large amounts of food are wasted and resources are spent on weapons.”
“The war in Ukraine has further aggravated this situation, putting whole peoples at risk of starvation, especially in Afghanistan and the countries of the Horn of Africa,” he said.
“We know that every war causes hunger and exploits food as a weapon, preventing its distribution to people who are already suffering.
“On this day, let us learn from the Prince of Peace (Jesus Christ) and, starting with those who have political responsibilities, let us commit to making food only a tool for peace.”